George Washington Coach Karl Hobbs used a different starting lineup for the third straight game. For the second straight time, it did not include forward Rob Diggs. But once again, Diggs didn't seem to mind.
The sophomore came off the bench last night to score a career-high 24 points to lead the Colonials to a 68-49 victory against Richmond in front of a crowd of 2,608 at Smith Center.
"Whether I come off the bench, I'm still going to try to play 100 percent and do what I can to get this team get a W," said Diggs, who added six rebounds in 32 minutes.
After the Colonials led by five points at the intermission, Richmond opened the second half with an 8-2 run to take a one-point lead. But the Colonials, behind Diggs, responded with an 11-0 run to push the lead to double digits. Diggs scored seven straight points during that stretch, including a three-point play after a slick inside move. He also added two hard dunks off passes from freshman point guard Travis King.
The Spiders made two three-pointers to cut GW's lead to five points around the midpoint of the second half. But again, Diggs helped the Colonials muster an answer. He caught a pass on the baseline, stepped back against a double team and made a jumper, then later scored on an easy layup during a 13-0 push by the Colonials over the next four minutes.
Diggs, who finished 9 for 11 from the field, set his new career high when he grabbed an offensive rebound and finished the play with his third dunk of the night with 2 minutes 4 seconds left. His previous high was 22 points against Longwood on Nov. 17, 2006.
"I just try to be the energy guy, get the defense going, block a shot and get a dunk just to get the offensive hyped," said the 6-foot-8, 187-pound Diggs, who has increased his time in the weight room of late. "Preparing for the game, I basically just lift more to not try to get bullied around anymore and I work on my mid-range shot."
After the game, Diggs said he didn't have a preference on whether to start or come off the bench. Hobbs played down the significance of the lineup change.
"Him starting, that's not important and that's the issue," Hobbs said. "It's not about who starts on this team. It's about when that ball hits the rim, who's going to get it."
But after starting GW's first 23 games this season, Diggs has come off the bench during the Colonials' last two contests, averaging 19 points in that span.
Junior guard Maureece Rice scored 16 points and point guard Carl Elliott recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. GW outrebounded the Spiders 39-21, a point of emphasis for Hobbs after the Colonials struggled on the boards during their recent four-game losing streak.
The Colonials (17-8, 8-5 Atlantic 10) won their second straight game, completed a season sweep of the Spiders and moved within a half-game of the fourth seed in the Atlantic 10 tournament. The top four finishers in the regular season standings earn first-round byes.
Richmond, which fell to 2-10 on the road, shot 45.5 percent during the first half, which prompted Hobbs to switch from a man-to-man defense to a zone. The Spiders went just 9 of 25 from the field in the second half.
Forward Dan Geriot led the Spiders (6-20, 2-11) with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting.