Injury-riddled George Washington failed on two three-point field-goal tries in the final seconds and dropped a 60-55 decision last night to St. Bonaventure in a sloppily played Atlantic 10 contest before 1,710 at Smith Center.
The victory by the Bonnies gave them a 19-7 overall record and a 10-3 conference mark, assuring them of the top seed in the West Division for the conference tournament next week. The Colonials, who dropped their third straight conference game, are 12-14 and 3-10 in the conference. GW closes out the regular season here Saturday against Duquesne before traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Dukes in a first-round playoff game Monday night at the Civic Arena.
Despite its injury problems, GW was in position to beat the Bonnies. Led by a 22-point, 13-rebound performance by Mike Brown, the Colonials engaged in a tight struggle throughout before taking a five-point advantage, 44-39, with 13 minutes remaining in the game.
To that point Chester Wood (16 points) had made all six field-goal attempts and was perfect with two free throws. But Wood caught an elbow under the basket and left the game with a bloody face. Leading scorer Troy Webster (four points), slowed by back spasms, played the first half but his back tightened up and the freshman sat out the second half. He is expected to miss the Duquesne game.
"When Chester went out, that hurt us," said GW Coach Gerry Gimelstob. "He was playing real well then. Troy was already out, Mike (O'Reilly) was limping and (Dave) Hobel is still bothered with some kind of flu."
Still, the Colonials didn't quit. Bonnies guard Mike Jones (15), relatively quiet most of the night, and Eric Stover (12) began scoring and the game swung in favor of the visitors.
Wood returned to the lineup but the Bonnies had assumed control. Three consecutive inside baskets by Stover, two layups by Mike Sheehey (16) and a bank shot by Jones brought St. Bonaventure the lead, 57-54, with 1:13 to play.
Hobel cut the deficit to a basket with a free throw with 48 seconds left. GW then fouled the Bonnies' best free-throw shooter, Norman Clarke (86 percent). The junior guard, who earlier missed the front end of a one-and-one, made the first of a bonus situation with 33 seconds left, but missed the second. The Colonials then had to being thinking about the three-pointer.
But the Bonnies played good defense and Hobel threw up an off-balanced three-point attempt from the right side that missed badly. Stover grabbed the rebound but threw the ball over Jones' head at midcourt.
GW came down again, looking for another three-point basket. This time Rogers, averaging two points a game, took the shot, a tentative 24-footer, that missed everything, and the Bonnies were safe.