Jim Boyle, the St. Joseph's basketball coach, had two general game plans for this afternoon's Atlantic 10 conference visit by George Washington.
"One if Mike played, another if he didn't," said Boyle, referring to the Colonials' 6-foot-10 center, Mike Brown.
Brown didn't play for the second straight game with a sprained toe, but Joe Wassel played, and forced St. Joseph's to Plan Three -- a box-and-one to contain the 6-4 senior swing man -- before pulling away for a 75-62 victory.
Wassel scored a career-high 33 points. But he was held without a shot for almost 10 minutes of the second half, and GW couldn't compensate.
The Colonials had cut the deficit to 45-44 with 11:01 remaining after Wassel scored 10 consecutive points. St. Joseph's jumped into the box-and-one defense, with Maurice Martin, an all-conference guard, defending Wassel, and the Hawks used a 14-6 run to put the game out of reach. Wassel got one more basket, on a fast break, the rest of the game.
"They did a very good job on us but we hurt ourselves in the first half," said Wassel, who was the Colonials' main thrust in the first 20 minutes. He scored 17 points, making each of his five three-point jumpers, but GW, now 8-6 overall and 3-3 in the conference, trailed by 36-25 at halftime.
"The difference was the way they played in the first half," George Washington Coach Gerry Gimelstob said of the taller Hawks. "They completely dominated us off the backboards.
"The second half, we worked hard to get it down to three and it took a lot out of us. Then they get it up to six, we missed a couple of follow-up shots and then you look up and it's nine. It just took a lot out of us getting back to three."
St. Joseph's (6-8, 2-4) watched GW score the game's first five points. The Hawks then raced to leads of as much as 13 in the first half before the Colonials made their surge behind Wassel, whose early second-half success came on inside moves before Boyle went to Plan Three.
"He (Martin) told me he wanted to play him," the coach admitted. "He said, 'I got him.' You hardly argue with a fellow of his intensity. It's a pride thing. And Maurice, besides being a very fine defender, is a very proud fellow."
With Wassel closed down, the Hawks' balanced scoring attack pushed the lead to 62-51 on a three-point shot by Martin with 5:24 left. After GW's Troy Webster made a pair of free throws, the Hawks went into their spread offense, which Boyle calls "four to score," and 6-8 Rodney Blake got successive dunks to put the game away.
St. Joseph's, which had five men in double figures, was led in scoring by guard James Flint, with 16 points.