George Washington Coach Gerry Gimelstob saw two sides of life without Mike Brown tonight as his team lost to Xavier (Ohio), 87-79, in the first round of the Kactus Klassic.
Brown, GW's 6-foot-10, 265-pound fortress in the middle, was about as effective as a sand castle in the first half, playing just 11 minutes and accumulating three fouls.
He played the entire second half despite picking up his fourth foul in the first 30 seconds. It didn't seem to matter.
When the Musketeers (4-0) weren't putting as many as four players around Brown, he faced a solid defensive effort from Xavier's one-two punch of Eddie Johnson and Andy Donnelly. The result wasn't surprising.
Brown finished with 13 points, nine under his average, and the Colonials (3-1) lost their chance to get off to their best start in 12 years.
"From a coaching standpoint, the only thing you can ask your team is to play as hard as it physically can play and do exactly what you, as coach, set up," Gimelstob said.
"They played their hearts out and I'm proud of that effort. If they play like that all the time, we'll have a hell of a year.
"As far as Michael being in foul trouble, I didn't think that was much of a factor."
The Colonials (3-1) did cut a four-point deficit to one at the half without Brown playing during the last nine minutes.
In the end, however, it was a matter of Xavier denying Brown the ball. At the same time, the Musketeers were sinking their free throws. They connected on 17 of 18 attempts in the second half, including 15 of 16 in the final five minutes.
The Colonials took a 42-37 lead with 16 minutes left in the game before Xavier ran off 10 straight points. The game was tied at 51, but the Musketeers scored seven more and GW never got closer than four after that.
GW will play Lehigh, an 81-63 loser to Arizona State tonight, for the consolation title.