GW 102, Morgan State 75
The George Washington men's basketball team played its first road game on Saturday night against Morgan State. And the night provided some harrowing moments even though the No. 19 Colonials won, 102-75, before 2,173 at Hill Field House.
George Washington (7-0) is off to its best start since it also began 7-0 in 1992-93. The Colonials made 64.8 percent of their field goals (35 of 54) against Morgan State (0-9).
The Bears came back from deficits of 22-0 and 30-5, however, and closed to 59-54 following a layup by junior Joseph McLean with 16 minutes 13 seconds to play.
The Colonials regained control with a 9-2 run, one that culminated in a three-pointer by junior Carl Elliott, for a 68-56 lead with 14:03 left.
"Once we got out to that big lead, we thought the game was over," said Pops Mensah-Bonsu, George Washington's senior center. "We thought we were going to walk all over them. Then they hit a couple threes and it became a game. We're an experienced team. I kept telling [my teammates] to keep their poise. We weren't going to win the game in the first 10 minutes."
Prior to the opening tip, Mensah-Bonsu extended his hand to a Morgan State player. The player swatted it away. Mensah-Bonsu looked at a teammate and smiled.
The Colonials proceeded to score the first 22 points. In their first 10 possessions, the Colonials made nine field goals and missed one. The run started when Elliott took a three-pointer that he thought he had missed; as he yelled "off," however, it banked off the backboard and in.
On the next possession, junior Danilo Pinnock had a dunk that was so powerful it tilted the shot clock above the basket.
Mensah-Bonsu made a reverse layup while being fouled for a 7-0 lead. And senior Mike Hall made a fadeaway jumper, also while being fouled, for an 11-0 lead.
The first 10 possessions for the Bears, meantime, featured no points and 10 missed shots. The Colonials took a 30-5 lead following a three-pointer by Pinnock with 12 minutes to play.
Morgan State had faced a 20-4 deficit in the first four minutes against Washington in its season opener. It lost, 118-51.
Saturday, however, was a different story. Senior Tyree Spinner (Paul VI Catholic), an offensive lineman on the football team playing in his second game, scored the team's first five points and finished with 12 points in the first half.
After trailing 30-5, the Bears went on a 25-10 run and closed to 40-30 following a three-pointer by freshman Marcus Gomes with 4:30 left in the first half.
Eventually, however, the Bears did not have an answer for Mensah-Bonsu. At one point, he blocked a shot into the first row of the stands. Another block went from underneath the basket to beyond the three-point line. He finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocked shots.
He had scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting in a 94-70 win over the Bears last season. The Bears used a 2-3 zone on Saturday that Coach Butch Beard said the team had not practiced in order to neutralize Mensah-Bonsu.
"I drew it up on the board before the game," Beard said. Mensah-Bonsu "is the same as last year. We don't have anyone who can guard him. We thought by going to the zone that it would make him pass the ball back outside. If they have to shoot jumpers they probably are going to beat us. But if they pound it inside they are definitely going to beat us."
Pinnock finished with a team-high 23 points and Elliott added 17. McLean had 15 points for the Bears. The Colonials finished with more than 100 points for the fourth time in Coach Karl Hobbs's four-plus seasons. GW made only 23 of 41 free throws (56 percent).