GW Men 76, La Salle 67
Tamal Forchion's biggest contribution to George Washington's 76-67 victory over La Salle yesterday at Smith Center wasn't his scoring or his rebounding, although he did plenty of both. Instead, Forchion helped the Colonials most by remaining poised in a game that had three players foul out and featured three technical fouls and an intentional foul.
"I thought Tamal just showed such maturity and restraint throughout the entire game," GW Coach Karl Hobbs said. "He never let the physical play bother him. . . . He just kept his calm."
Forchion scored a season-high 18 points -- one shy of his career high -- and grabbed eight rebounds in his most extensive playing time since Jan. 18 against Dayton. His efforts helped the Colonials (10-14, 4-9 Atlantic 10) move a half-game behind fourth-place La Salle (10-13, 4-8) in the West Division standings. If GW can take over fourth place from the Explorers, it would host a first-round conference tournament game on March 10.
As any of the 2,529 fans can attest, it was an unusual game in several respects. GW won despite its only point guard playing nearly the entire game in foul trouble and its leading scorer playing just 22 minutes. T.J. Thompson was on the court for only nine minutes in the first half after picking up his third personal foul 7 minutes 4 seconds into the game. Despite not picking up a foul, Chris Monroe -- the second-leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 at 20.8 points per game -- spent most of the game on the bench.
Monroe scored 12 points to keep his streak of 38 consecutive double-figure scoring games alive, but his play was hardly a factor in the outcome. Hobbs said Monroe was not ill or in trouble. Instead, Hobbs chose to go with other players on this day.
"It's not about Chris Monroe," Hobbs said. "It's about winning basketball games."
Forchion was one of the players to which Hobbs turned. From the start, GW found the 6-foot-6 sophomore forward underneath the basket. Forchion went 6 of 9 from the field and 6 of 12 from the free throw line to score as many points against LaSalle as he had in the last 12 games combined.
"When I got in, I just wanted to take good care of the time that I had," Forchion said. "Fortunately, I did pretty well and Coach believed in me and he kept me in the game. Therefore, I ended up with the night that I had."
With less than 14 minutes remaining, emotions crested when the play became exceedingly physical. Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who was upset that he had not gotten a foul called when he missed his shot on GW's previous possession, grabbed a rebound underneath the La Salle basket and was trapped along the baseline by two players. After David Bell was called for intentionally fouling Mensah-Bonsu, Joel-Jean Baptiste and Mensah-Bonsu became involved in a shoving match. Each player received a technical foul.
Less than 20 seconds later, Omar Williams was given a technical foul for hanging on the rim following his dunk. But once the players' emotions were back under control, GW exacted revenge on La Salle for the Explorers' 67-49 win in Philadelphia on Jan. 11.
"This was a big win to get at home because we've got a tough stretch coming up on the road," said Greg Collucci, referring to games at St. Bonaventure and Xavier. "We needed to make sure we took care of our home court before we worried about [the road trip]."