After opening its season Saturday night with an excellent defensive effort against what is expected to be one of the Ivy League's better teams, George Washington tonight will see how it compares to a team that is expected to be competitive in the Metro Conference.

The Colonials allowed Yale to shoot just 35 percent from the field and they defeated the Elis, 77-65, in New Haven, Conn. George Washington Coach John Kuester said if his team can play the same type of defense against South Carolina tonight at Smith Center (7:30), it can end up with the same type of result.

"Anything can happen," Kuester said. "After {Saturday} night's game, our kids know the kind of mental approach it takes to win. If we can play with the same effort and emotion, I'll feel very comfortable with our chances."

In other games tonight, American University opens its season against Coppin State at Fort Myer; Navy plays Slippery Rock at Halsey Field House and the University of the District of Columbia plays Shaw at UDC's Physical Activities Center.

A victory by the Colonials tonight certainly would give them a boost as they get ready for an Atlantic 10 Conference schedule that promises to be anything but easy. But Kuester downplayed the importance of this, or any pre-Atlantic 10 game.

"All of our games are big games right now," he said. "We're just trying to improve because our league is awfully strong this year. Temple is in the top 20. West Virginia is right there and Rhode Island beat Virginia at Virginia {Saturday} night. So, we're going to be playing some of the best in the country."

The Gamecocks are not exactly among the nation's slouches. "An excellent team," Kuester said.

They return four of the top five scorers from a team that finished 15-14 overall, 5-7 in the Metro Conference (fifth place) last season and defeated George Washington, 79-62, last December in Columbia, S.C.

They opened their 1987-88 season Saturday night by defeating Wofford, 81-62. Darryl Martin, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, scored 20 points and had eight rebounds.