John Battle, a senior guard from McKinley Tech of Washington, D.C., scored a game-high 27 points today to lead Rutgers to an 80-73 Atlantic 10 victory over George Washington University at the Rutgers Athletic Center before a crowd of 6,965.
Battle, the conference's leading scorer averaging 23.2 points per game, made 11 of 16 field goal attempts, including a three-pointer, and four of six free throws to pace the Scarlet Knights to their 10th victory against six losses (6-2 in the conference). George Washington dropped to 9-7, 4-4.
GW, which was led by Mike O'Reilly's 18 points, got 17 points and 12 rebounds from center Mike Brown. But Brown is not fully recovered from an earlier toe injury and made only four of 14 from the floor and nine of 14 free throws.
"You have no idea how handicapped Mike is out there," noted GW Coach Gerry Gimelstob. "Both the doctor and trainer advised him not to play this weekend. He's playing on all heart."
Rutgers Coach Tom Young said he felt Steve Perry's defense also contributed to Brown's poor shooting.
"I felt Perry did a good job on Brown," said Young. "He got in front of him and stopped him from getting the ball."
"He is just a big player," said the 6-foot-6 Perry, who is from Woodbridge, Va., and played two years at GW before transferring to Rutgers. "And he uses his body whenever he can. My job was to not let him get the ball. I pretty much did my job."
Rutgers led throughout the first half, its advantage reaching 11 points. Battle paced the Scarlet Knights with 17 first-half points.
The Knights took an eight-point lead with 12:04 left, outscoring the Colonials, 8-0. Four players scored as the Knights took an 18-10 lead. GW closed within five when Ken Barer picked off a pass and made a lay-up to bring the Colonials to 34-29.
After Brian Ellerbe (10 points, 14 assists), a graduate of Bowie High, sank two free throws with 1:54 left, Chris Remley and Zucker converted two of his steals into layups and Rutgers led, 40-29, at halftime.
In the half, Battle made seven of eight field goal attempts, including his three-pointer, and was two for three from the line.
Rutgers started the second half with a 10-3 run to take a 50-32 lead. The lead remained in double figures until midway through the half. With the score 62-51, GW outscored the Knights, 12-2, to come within one as Brown converted a three-point play and, one minute later, Joe Wassel, who finished with 12 points, made a three-pointer.
Rutgers then converted two GW turnovers into baskets to take a 68-63 lead with 4:07 left. Brown missed the front end of a one-and-one and Battle made two free throws to take a seven-point lead with 3:19 left.
GW came within three with 54 seconds left, but committed three turnovers and missed another one-and-one.
"I thought the kids never panicked," Gimelstob said. "They played within themselves. I thought in the first half we couldn't get any better shots. Chester Wood (zero for five) just couldn't convert, but I was very pleased with our shot selection.
"We missed three one-and-ones towards the end. That, essentially, was a big part of the game. You can't miss those one-and-ones in a close game like this."