George Washington was beating Morgan State by 27 points when Coach Gerry Gimelstob called a timeout less than two minutes into the second half of last night's game at Smith Center.
The Colonials had just been beaten downcourt three straight times and Gimelstob was upset. With that little pep talk completed, the undefeated Colonials went on to a 115-67 victory over the winless Bears, who have lost five games and three players due to eligiblity problems.
"Essentially, your opponent is always yourself," Gimelstob said. "We're not concerned with who we play or where we play. We're concerned with how we play."
Even with a full complement of players for Morgan State, this game would not have been close. But, what mattered for GW fans in the crowd of 1,234 was the Colonials (3-0) playing hard and emotionally from start to finish.
Even after center Mike Brown (23 points, 16 rebounds in 30 minutes) was through for the night, there was no letup by the reserves, seven of whom scored six points or more, led by freshman Joe Dooley's 16 points and Chester Wood's 11.
Typical of the level of GW's intensity was a play by freshman forward Kenny Barer with the Colonials leading by 45 points late in the game. Morgan had a two-on-one fast break, but Barer sprinted down court, broke up the play, stole the ball and converted the turnover into a three-point play by Steve Frick.
"That's something we have to do this year to have the kind of team we want," Brown said. "We have to play with that intensity no matter who they are. We just want to be the best team that we can be defensively, because that's the key to our offense."
GW was credited with 16 steals, 10 in the second half when the Colonials made 20 layups and scored 64 points to come within two points of the Smith Center scoring record. As it was, it was GW's largest margin of victory over a Division I opponent and the first time the Colonials scored more than 91 points against a Division I opponent in Gimselstob's four seasons. The 51 field goals also were a GW record.
GW now has played hard for almost the entire way for three straight games, beating three outmanned teams by a total of 81 points. "Now, we play some serious teams," said Athletic Director Steve Bilsky, referring to Friday night's game against Xavier in the Kactus Classic.
For Morgan State and Tom Dean, its coach and athletic director, last night's game ended a hectic, 10-day cross-country tour during which the Bears also lost to New Mexico by 32 points, Wisconsin by 14, South Alabama by 52 and San Diego State by 50.
At New Mexico, fans recognized 6-10 center Larry Hubbard as a former Lobo player involved in a 1979 phony-transcript scandal. He was dismissed from the team after the Wisconsin game, because his college eligibility had expired. Kevin Bussie, another key player, was ruled ineligible for similar reasons and 6-5 freshman Terry Glaze didn't play last night while he tries to prove he took a course that enabled him to graduate from high school.
Dean declined comment about the eligibility situation, but Earl F. Richardson, the university president, has announced he will make a statement today.