Embarrassed after blowing a 14-point first-half lead, George Washington ran off 12 consecutive points to open the final 20 minutes and the Colonials went on to down Duquesne, 83-66, in an Atlantic 10 Conference game last night before 2,101 at Smith Center.
GW, 7-3 overall and 2-0 in the conference, didn't enjoy one of its better games but got stellar performances from Joe Wassel (17 points), Mike Brown (15 points, 14 rebounds), Chester Wood (13, six) and Steve Frick (11 points).
"There were three key parts of the game -- at the beginning (when GW took a 19-6 lead), the beginning of the second half and the last five minutes of the game (GW made 14 free throws to assure the win)," said GW Coach Gerry Gimelstob.
"We lost a little of our mental concentration near the end of the second half and I talked to them about it at halftime."
Gimelstob's little talk obviously had some effect as the Colonials, who led by 38-36 at the half, jumped all over the Dukes (4-5, 1-1) at the start of the second half.
Wassel, who had five three-point goals Thursday against West Virginia, made two from beyond the 19-foot 9-inch arc and a pair of free throws during GW's 12-0 blitz that made it 50-36 with 17:17 left to play.
Frick, who has made significant contributions since becoming a starter four games ago, had nine of his points in the first half and did a good defensive job on Mark Beavers (12 points).
"Since I'm starting and playing more minutes, I've gotten more comfortable and confident out there," said Frick, a junior. "I had been taking the shots but they were going in and out. Tonight, I hit a few. Guys are still laying off us and and sagging on Mike (Brown). When they did that, I took the shots."
Duquesne, which lost three of its top four returning players due to legal problems, didn't have anyone to contend with Brown inside but scratched and clawed its way back to within seven points at the 6:13 mark.
"You have to give Duquesne a lot of credit," said Gimelstob. "They played harder and better than us for 40 minutes."
Five points by Rick Suder (15 points) enabled the Dukes to get close. But the Colonials slowed things down and the Dukes had no choice but to foul. Brown, who played 30 minutes on a still badly sprained toe, had two follow-up baskets and three free throws, and Wood had seven points as GW quickly built its lead back to a more comfortable 12 points, 70-58, with less than two minutes remaining.
The Colonials, who shot very well from the field in their four-point triumph over West Virginia earlier this week, continued to hit their outside shots in the early minutes of last night's game.
Mike O'Reilly's three-point shot put the hosts up, 7-4, and they took off from that point. While the Dukes were misfiring on six straight attempts and committing three turnovers, GW ran off 12 points to take a 19-6 advantage with 13:30 left in the half.
Frick scored nine points, including a three-point field goal that gave the Colonials their largest lead, 25-11, at the 9:52 mark.
Duquesne had problems getting anything easy against GW's hustling man-to-man defense, committing nine turnovers to GW's two. Leading scorer Suder (19.3 points a game) couldn't get open and had only six points in the half.
Duquesne began challenging the Colonials inside and came up with some big baskets in the waning minutes of the half. Dwayne Rawls began a rally with a basket after getting Duquesne's first offensive rebound of the half. Beavers and Pat Farrell each had four points and Rawls three during an 18-9 surge that brought the Dukes back into the game.
GW made only three of its last nine shots of the half while Duquesne scored the final six points to cut the deficit to 38-36 at intermission.