GW Men 80, Bucknell 77
What started off as a three-point shooting contest became a game dominated by post players.
George Washington defeated Bucknell, 80-77, last night to win the championship game of the ninth annual Red Auerbach Colonial Classic, its ninth straight tournament title. To pull out the victory before 2,365 at Smith Center, the Colonials had to withstand an off night by its only senior and a 34-point performance from Boakai Lalugba, the tournament's most valuable player.
Freshman center Pops Mensah-Bonsu, making his first start of the season in place of Alexander Kireev, led the Colonials with 24 points on 11-of-12 shooting. He also had seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
"When I found out that I had the opportunity to start, I wanted to show Coach [Karl] Hobbs that's where I want to be," Mensah-Bonsu said.
After rallying from a 10-point deficit, George Washington (2-1) nearly squandered its eight-point lead with 3 minutes 40 seconds remaining in the game. Greg Collucci's running jump shot gave the Colonials their biggest lead, 78-70. Bucknell (2-2), however, refused to go away.
Lalugba scored five of the Bison's next seven points to pull them within one with 53 seconds remaining. On GW's next possession, Chris Monroe, a two-time MVP of this tournament, missed a three-point shot with 30 seconds remaining.
GW was able to maintain possession when Omar Williams grabbed the offensive rebound. The Colonials managed to take 15 seconds off the clock passing the ball around the perimeter until Brian Werner fouled Collucci with 15 seconds left. Collucci made the first of two free throws, giving GW a two-point lead.
Bucknell worked the ball to Lalugba, who missed a driving jump shot. GW's Mike Hall grabbed the rebound and was fouled immediately by Ben Slater.
Hall made the first foul shot, then intentionally missed his second attempt. Time expired before Bucknell could attempt a desperation shot.
Monroe, the team's lone senior, had a difficult night, going 3 of 15 from the field to finish with 12 points. His only baskets came on three-pointers. Normally, Monroe does a nice job driving to the basket and picking up fouls. However, Bucknell blanketed him with defenders most of the night.
With Monroe not playing up to his usual standards, the Colonials' freshmen compensated with strong performances. Forward Mike Hall recorded his first double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Mensah-Bonsu and Hall were two big reasons GW was able to outrebound Bucknell 39-28, including 18-8 in offensive rebounds.
"That came down to being the difference in the game," Hobbs said. "If we don't get 18 offensive rebounds, we don't win the ballgame."
Hall, Mensah-Bonsu and T.J. Thompson (12 points, 10 assists) were selected to the all-tournament team.