After blowing a 15-point lead, George Washington regrouped behind Steve Frick and Mike O'Reilly in the final minutes to turn back Duquesne, 78-70, in a key Atlantic 10 game yesterday at Smith Center.
GW, winning for the fifth time in seven games, is 11-13 overall and 6-9 in the conference. With three conference games left -- beginning with its final home game of the season Monday against Rutgers -- GW is trying to finish among the top six in the 10-team league to secure a bye in the tournament's first round.
The Dukes, 63-61 winners over the Colonials last month, are 12-12 and 7-8.
The Colonials came into this game still riding high from Thursday night's 76-75 upset of West Virginia. Yesterday, they ran and shot their way way to a 24-9 lead with just over nine minutes to play in the first half.
But the Dukes, finally getting their big scorer Rick Suder (21 points) going, were within 38-34 at the half. Suder scored from long range and Ronnie Stevenson and Mark Beavers made several baskets as the Dukes finally slipped ahead, 61-58, with 5:19 to play.
"Sometimes the worst thing that can happened is to get a big lead early," said GW Coach John Kuester. "In the first 10 minutes, we played as well as we can play. In the second 10, we started to think we were good."
Much to the delight of the crowd of 1,456, GW came back to earth just in time.
In between Suder's misses, O'Reilly made a long jumper and Frick (14 points, six rebounds) made two foul shots to put the Colonials ahead to stay, 62-61, with 4:06 left. O'Reilly had nine of his team's last 19 points.
" Troy Webster really did a great job on Suder," Kuester said. "He has to go out every night and cover the big scorer and he does it."
After another Duquesne miss, GW forward Chester Wood got a rebound of his own missed shot and put up a backward layup that fell through. He was fouled by Dwayne Rawls (his fifth) and made the free throw for a 65-61 advantage with 3:09 left.
Suder was finished for the afternoon, missing his last five shots. The hustling Colonials limited the visitors to a single shot and steadily built their lead on free throws. O'Reilly made seven of eight in the final 1:41, Frick and Moti Daniel each had a pair, and Webster had a breakaway dunk to assure GW's third straight win.
"I practice shooting free throws all the time, how can I miss?" said O'Reilly, shooting a team high 82 percent from the line. "My job is to run the team and make those shots at the end. Right now we're playing with a lot of confidence."
Dukes Coach Jim Satalin said GW played much more aggressively than his team.
"Had it not been for Rick, we might not have gotten 40 points," Satalin said. "How can you win when 6-foot-6 forward Dwayne Rawls shoots only twice?"
Rawls, who came into the game averaging 15.5 points, finished with six.
Rawls was outplayed in the early going by GW's 6-6 freshman Brian Royal, who enjoyed season highs in points (13) and rebounds (10). Gallaudet 72, Alvernia 70
At Gallaudet, David Hamilton's 20-foot jump shot with 25 seconds left in the second overtime gave his school (13-11) its winningest season since it took up basketball in 1904. Alvernia, of Reading, Pa., is 12-12. George Mason 73, Richmond 58
Ricky Wilson's 25 points and Kenny Sanders' 23 helped win the Colonial Athletic Association game in Richmond.
The Patriots (14-10 overall and 8-4 in the conference) got 13 points from Rob Rose.
The Spiders (20-4 overall, 11-1 and tied for first place in the conference with Navy) were paced by Rodney Rice with 16 points and Peter Wolfolk with 14. John Newman, who averages more than 22 points, shot three for 15 and scored 11 points. Mount St. Mary's 86, Catholic 59
Coach Jim Phelan got his 599th victory as The Mount took a 49-27 halftime lead and coasted in Emmitsburg, Md. He will seek 600 Monday at Pittsburgh-Johnstown. His team, ranked sixth in Division II, is 20-3 and has won 16 of its last 17. Catholic is 16-8. Montgomery-Rockville 96, Cecil CC 83
Lorenzo Gill scored a season-high 38 points to lead Rockville (11-9 overall and 9-7 in the league) to a JUCO victory in Rockville. Cecil is 9-19 and 3-12. Harford 94, Mont.-Germantown 68
In Aberdeen, Md., Harford (9-14) improved to 7-5 in the Maryland JUCO Conference. The Gryphons are 5-17, 5-7 in the conference despite Jimmy Andrakakos' 37 points.