George Washington University tonight got a victory out of the Kactus Klassic basketball tournament, although it was one fewer than wanted.
Playing in the consolation game, GW beat Lehigh, 76-49, at Arizona State's University Activity Center. ASU beat Xavier of Ohio, 71-67, in the title game.
Unlike Friday night, when they encountered a big, quick Xavier team that inflicted their first defeat, the Colonials (4-1) breezed over the final 20 minutes against the smaller, slower Engineers.
GW held a six-point lead at halftime but capitalized on Lehigh's poor shooting and ball handling to break the game open in the second half. The Engineers scored six points in the first 10 minutes, helping the Colonials to a 55-37 lead.
For the game, GW shot 61 percent from the field to Lehigh's 38.5.
"We played better defense and our shot selection was better," GW Coach Gerry Gimelstob said.
Asked what changes were made in the Colonials' defense, he said, "It's called execution, doing what we're supposed to do."
Mike Brown, the Colonials' 6-foot-10 center who made the all-tournament team, was in foul trouble against Xavier and scored only 13 points. But tonight he played 36 minutes and scored 23 points. No Lehigh regular stood taller than 6-6.
Guard Mike Polaha scored 19 points for Lehigh.
At the start the Colonials seemed bent on a blowout, racing to a 21-7 lead after 10 minutes had elapsed. Turnovers hurt Lehigh (2-4), which lost the ball on four straight possessions in one stretch.
After switching from a man-to-man defense to zone, Lehigh crept within range and GW led 27-21, with 5:18 left in the half.
The Colonials immediately scored six in a row, on a jumper by Brown and two baskets by Darryl Webster to go up by 12 points, 33-21 with 3:03 remaining in the half.
Again, Lehigh came back, taking advantage of the Colonials' sputtering offense in a 10-4 run that cut it to 37-31 at halftime.
Gimelstob acknowledged his team will play stronger opponents than Lehigh, but said, "The ultimate opponent is always yourself. Xavier had more talent but if we had better patience and shot selection, it would have been better for our team."