Like most young teams, the George Washington men's basketball team has lost a few games this season because its free throw shooting was less than stellar. For 30 minutes last night against American, it appeared the Colonials would be done in by a poor performance at the line.
But after missing nine of its first 11, George Washington made 17 free throws in a row and held off the pesky Eagles, 83-72, before 3,171 at Smith Center.
Freshman guard SirValiant Brown had 29 points for George Washington (6-8), which snapped a three-game losing streak and defeated the Eagles for the ninth straight time. American (6-8) lost its second in a row, despite a career-high 30 points from junior guard Ronald Hearns.
"We probably could attribute three or four losses to poor free throw shooting down the stretch," Colonials Coach Tom Penders said. "With experience, hopefully we'll get better."
The Eagles had a chance to tie with 6 minutes 52 seconds remaining, but freshman guard Hasheem Alexander missed 1 of 2 free throws to keep the Colonials ahead, 65-64.
George Washington then went on a 12-0 to pull away. The Eagles turned over the ball four times and went scoreless for 5 minutes 47 seconds.
American Coach Art Perry said George Washington's fast tempo was a factor.
"I tried to calm them down as much as I could," Perry said. "I tried to tell them to settle down. It's a little out of rhythm for us."
Freshman guard Chris Monroe got the Colonials off to a fast start, scoring all of his team's points as GW jumped to an 11-2 lead.
"I just came out and took what they gave me," said Monroe, a Good Counsel graduate who finished with 24 points.
With the Colonials ahead 26-11, American fought back with an 8-0 run. Although the Eagles were never able to overtake George Washington, they continually threatened the Colonials' lead.
American's 10-2 run to start the second half cut George Washington's lead to 44-43. The Eagles did a good job of attacking the basket and drawing fouls. George Washington had four players with four or more fouls at the end of the game.
Foul trouble had forced Penders to switch the Colonials to a zone defense, which Hearns exploited by making three consecutive three-pointers. He finished with seven three-point baskets--two shy of the school record.
"[Brown] just gave me room," Hearns said. "I got my feet set and took the shot."
With George Washington ahead 55-54, Brown made a jumper and was fouled. His free throw began the Colonials' string of 17 straight.
Colonials Notes: Penders said he is optimistic that junior guard Mike King (strained shoulder) will return to the lineup soon.
"Mike's got a chance to get back fairly soon," Penders said. "He's doing a different type of rehab. He told me he thought he might be back in a week to 10 days." . . .
GW sophomore center Albert Roma, starting for the second consecutive game, had a career-high six blocks.