In the winter of 1972-73, John Kuester was in his senior year of high school, Max Blank was living in the Soviet Union, Glen Sitney was 3 years old and George Washington University won five of its first six basketball games.

In the winter of 1987-88, Kuester is coaching Blank and Sitney and the Colonials are off to their best start since 1972-73.

George Washington made just 41.6 percent of its field goals last night, but it was more than enough as the Colonials defeated Monmouth, 64-54, before 1,354 at Smith Center.

"It's a great feeling," said sophomore guard Ellis McKennie, who led GW with 14 points and five steals. "I think we can be as good as we let ourselves be."

But as Kuester has said repeatedly this season, when the Colonials do not play intense defense, they can be beaten by anyone. And for 17 minutes last night, they were being beaten by an anyone.

Monmouth (3-2), which entered the game having won just eight of 53 road games since moving up to Division I in 1982-83, led, 25-23, with 2:58 remaining in the first half. But the Colonials scored the half's final seven points and led, 30-25, at the intermission.

"I was surprised we were up by that much," Kuester said. "They had done an excellent job of controlling the tempo and posting up down low."

After Monmouth was unable to inbound the ball to begin the second half, Blank (12 points, seven rebounds) made a short jumper to give GW a seven-point lead. The Hawks then closed to within 32-29 on baskets by former H.D. Woodson High School player James Hinnant (game highs of 15 points and nine rebounds) and Ernie Dix (11 points).

However, that was as close as they would get. GW's 23-6 run over the next eight minutes made it 55-35 with 8:36 to play.