George Washington's strategy for St. Joseph's was sound -- slow the tempo and prevent Hawks center Rodney Blake from getting the ball down low. GW could do neither.
GW couldn't recover from a poor shooting first half, while the Hawks had a splendid effort by Blake and cruised to an 87-72 victory yesterday in an Atlantic 10 game at Smith Center.
Blake finished with a career-high 27 points and had 11 rebounds and six blocked shots. Wayne Williams scored 15 points, Geoff Arnold 13 and all-America guard Maurice Martin, in foul trouble early, had 12 for St. Joseph's (9-2 overall, 3-0 in the conference).
For George Washington, Steve Frick made 10 of 13 shots from the floor and had a career-high 25 points. Troy Webster scored 20 points for the losers.
Perhaps if the Colonials (5-7 overall, 0-3 in the Atlantic 10) had not missed 13 of their first 18 shots, they might have made it a game. St. Joseph's was coming off an emotional nine-point triumph over Temple on Thursday night and was looking ahead to a game against unbeaten Duke at the Palestra in Philadelphia on Monday night. The Hawks have won eight straight.
While GW was trying to find its range, Hawks guard Arnold scored his team's first eight points, Williams had five points and 6-foot-8 Blake muscled inside for two baskets as the visitors moved to a 22-14 lead midway through the first half.
"It doesn't take a genius to figure out we are a perimeter shooting team," said GW Coach John Kuester. "We got some easy shots but didn't make them. We even got a break when Maurice Martin got in foul trouble. But we couldn't stop Blake from getting the ball deep."
With Martin on the bench with three first-half fouls, the Hawks went to Blake. By halftime, the sophomore had 12 points, four rebounds and four blocks, and his teammates made six of their last seven shots from the floor to take a 43-31 lead.
"When Martin went out, the other players picked up the slack and played well," said St. Joseph's Coach Jim Boyle. "We didn't have to make any adjustments to compensate for him being out."
Boyle lost his cool momentarily at the end of the first half and earned a technical foul. The Colonials turned it into a four-point play as Frick made both free throws and Webster sank a long jumper on the ensuing possession.
Webster scored on a breakaway, and Moti Daniels sank a short banker around a Martin free throw as the Colonials cut the deficit to 44-39 with just over 18 minutes left. But as it appeared that the Colonials might be ready to catch up, Martin had two baskets and Blake had a dunk in the next four minutes, and St. Joseph's led, 56-45.
The Colonials, led by Frick and Webster's long-range shooting, rallied once again within five, 75-70, with 3:45 to play. But St. Joseph's tightened up defensively. After Williams' running dunk and Blake's two free throws, it essentially was over with 1:05 remaining.