Xavier 80, GW Men 68
With less than five minutes remaining in its game against No. 20 Xavier last night, George Washington trailed the second-best team in the Atlantic 10 Conference by three points.
Then came crunch time, and then GW came undone, enduring a three-minute scoring drought that allowed the Musketeers to pull away to an 80-68 victory before 3,617 at Smith Center.
The loss dropped GW (8-11, 2-6) to fifth place in the West Division. Xavier improved to 16-4, 7-1.
"It's a young basketball team that's evolving," GW Coach Karl Hobbs said. "In time, it's going to learn how to take care of the ball. . . . The next step for us is being able to execute in situations when we're plus one [or] down one and being able to make the correct play. Once we do that, then we'll do a little bit better job of taking care of games, particularly down the stretch."
With 5 minutes 13 seconds left, Mike Hall converted Pops Mensah-Bonsu's miss to pull GW within 62-59. The Colonials forced Xavier into a turnover, then turned it over themselves.
Lionel Chalmers, playing in his second game since missing a month because of a fracture in his right foot, sank a three-point basket that began a 12-0 run by the Musketeers. During its scoreless stretch, GW missed three shots and committed three turnovers.
The Colonials, who had withstood run after run by Xavier, were unable to battle back this one last time. The Musketeers maintained their double-digit lead until the end.
"I'm hoping sooner or later one of these close games, we'll put it out against one of these tough teams," Mensah-Bonsu said. "It's going to happen sooner or later."
GW's frustration stems from extended stretches of strong play, then a failure to execute at the end. Last night, the Colonials shot 53 percent and held the Musketeers to 43 percent shooting.
GW did a nice job containing senior forward David West, the reigning Atlantic 10 player of the year. West scored 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting and didn't reach double figures until 6:40 remained. Despite his less-than-impressive performance, West set an Atlantic 10 record in this game. His 13 rebounds gave him 1,173 in his career, breaking the conference record held by former GW standout Mike Brown (1,166 rebounds).
Chris Monroe, who had 17 points to lead the Colonials, played particularly well in the first half but disappeared after halftime. Monroe made every shot he took inside the three-point arc (5 of 5) the first 20 minutes. His only missed field goals (two) in that half were from three-point range.
Monroe, however, attempted only five shots after halftime and did not score after the 16-minute mark of the second half. He had just four points in that half.
Colonials Note: Jaaron Greene, a 6-foot-10, 270-pound senior forward from Mount Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina, said he will sign a national letter-of-intent to play for the Colonials. Greene attended Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas before transferring to Mount Zion two years ago. He is the Colonials' second recruit this season. Ricky Lucas, a 6-5 guard from Herndon, signed with GW in the fall.