George Washington Coach Karl Hobbs had one thought during yesterday's game against Morgan State.
"Thank God it's a 40-minute game," he said.
The Bears gave the Colonials fits early before GW prevailed, 94-70, in its home opener at Smith Center.
If the 2,352 fans in attendance had expected the Colonials (1-1) to have an easy time against their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponent, they were surprised to find GW trailing Morgan State (0-3) at halftime. The Bears, who had barely managed to score 49 points against Robert Morris on Monday, held a 45-44 lead entering the second half.
Early on, GW had trouble keeping track of Morgan State's shooters, particularly Sam Brand, who had 18 of his 27 points before the break. Brand finished 9 of 16 from the field, making 5 of 9 three-point attempts. Morgan State made eight of its first 11 shots (73 percent) and shot 60 percent in the first half, including 7 of 13 on three-point attempts (54 percent).
"It's like one of those Princeton situations where they just back-cut you and back-cut you and eventually [Brand is] going to get open," said J.R. Pinnock, who led the Colonials with 23 points and eight rebounds. "He doesn't stop moving. He's lot like a small [Detroit Pistons guard] Rip Hamilton in that he keeps moving on offense."
Pinnock started in place of Mike Hall, who was out with a sprained medial collateral ligament he suffered in Monday's 97-76 loss at No. 2 Wake Forest. Hall said he expects to be out for a week. The Colonials do not play again until next Sunday against Fairfield.
Morgan State trailed only by eight with 6 minutes 30 seconds remaining before the Bears finally succumbed to GW's athleticism and depth. The Colonials went on a 22-6 run to close out the game.
"The thing I liked about the way we played today, I thought we played with each other," Hobbs said. "I'm not so sure we did that against Wake Forest. . . . We didn't play as a team offensively or defensively, and I thought today we played more together as a basketball team."
Pops Mensah-Bonsu was a force inside for GW. He made his first five shots and hit 7 of 10 free throws to score 17 of his 21 points in the first half. Morgan State struggled to defend Mensah-Bonsu without fouling him. The Bears picked up five team fouls within the first five minutes and were in the bonus by 13:25. The Colonials scored 26 points at the free throw line while Morgan State took only 14 foul shots, making eight.
"We knew coming into the game that it was going to be tough for them to guard our inside presence because they're a little shorter, maybe not as strong inside," Mensah-Bonsu said. "Our game plan coming into today was definitely get the ball inside, hurt them on the inside."
* PITTSBURGH 81, HOWARD 55: Chevon Troutman scored 18 points as the No. 17 Panthers easily won their opener.
The Panthers won their 41st in a row at home against a nonconference opponent
Howard (0-2) scored only two points in the opening 10:17 and didn't have a player with more than two other than Cliffone Ault until well into the second half. Ault finished with 24.
* NIAGARA 78, AMERICAN 71: Juan Mendez scored a game-high 30 points and added nine rebounds and six steals to lead the Purple Eagles (1-1) at home.
Matej Cresnik led American (0-2) with 17 points. Raimondas Petrauskas had 16 points, while Ryan Graham had 12.