Guts and guile won George Washington a college basketball game last night at Smith Center as 2,336 fans saw the Colonials defeat Jacksonville, 83-77.
"Jacksonville has great athletes," said GW Coach John Kuester, whose team is 4-2. "We don't have great athletic ability, but what I've told this team is that they are good athletes and they give us the effort. And tonight they gave us intelligence, which is why I'm so pleased."
Daniel Moti led GW with a season-high 19 points and grabbed six rebounds. Center Steve Frick had 13 in the first half, but a bad cold began to take its toll in the second half as he finished with 15.
"Steve was very, very sick," Kuester said. "I called my third timeout just for him. He was close to passing out. Before the game, I shook his hand and it felt very clammy. He showed true guts tonight."
All five Jacksonville starters were between 6 feet 5 and 6-7, and all were between 210 and 230 pounds. They were also, for the most part, a step quicker. But all of that media-guide stuff doesn't necessarily get you any points.
The Dolphins looked like they were going to make short work of the Colonials, jumping to 8-1 lead. It took GW 4 1/2 minutes to score its first basket.
The bigger, stronger, quicker Dolphins seemed more sure of themselves in the first six minutes while the Colonials looked a bit tentative.
Otis Smith either scored or assisted on Jacksonville's first 10 points. The Dolphins led, 13-5, with 14:07 left when Tom Terrell made a three-point play.
But by then, the Colonials had lost some of their jitters and they started going to the basket with more authority, and it paid off.
George Washington outscored Jacksonville, 17-2, over the next six minutes. GW's 6-0 point guard, Mike O'Reilly, sank an 18-footer, Frick and Kenny Barer made layups and Craig Helms made two free throws to tie it at 13. Barer made a layup and then put GW up, 17-15, by diving for a loose ball and then getting open underneath for a layup.
Jacksonville recovered, but still trailed, 38-30, at the half. But Jacksonville outscored GW, 15-4, in the first five minutes of the second half and led by as many as nine with less than six minutes to go.
But GW stayed cool, worked hard and the lead vanished. With 2:59 to go, Chester Wood made two baskets in a row for a 74-70 Colonials lead that stood up.
"We kept our poise in the second half and shot very well," said Kuester.
"There may be teams with better athletes. They may be faster and jump higher," said Barer, who had eight points, "but no one should outwork us."