- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

On Monday, George Washington forward Rob Diggs missed practice because of a root canal, courtesy of an elbow he received against Providence a few weeks ago.

Partially as a result, Diggs had a poor first-half performance last night, scoring just four points against Maryland-Eastern Shore.

But at halftime, the 6-foot-8 forward took a painkiller, then scored 12 points in the second half to lead the Colonials to a 79-56 win before 2,525 at Smith Center. Diggs also finished with a career-high seven blocks in GW’s 18th straight home win.

“I was in a lot of pain,” Diggs said.

Regis Koundjia joined Diggs in his halftime turnaround. Koundjia, who scored just two points in the first half to help keep the Hawks in the game, scored 11 more in the second.

“They both got a little lecture at the 16- or 15-minute mark where I said to both guys, ‘The reason why we are in this situation is because you guys decided that you don’t want to play hard,’ ” GW coach Karl Hobbs said.

Diggs opened the second half with a big one-handed dunk down the lane, beginning an 8-1 run that put the Colonials (6-1) up 41-30 with 17:37 left.

GW struggled to find its offensive rhythm in the first half thanks to the defense of UMES (1-4). The Hawks began in a man-to-man and switched to a 2-3 zone, forcing Colonials senior guard Carl Elliott to miss his first four shots. With Elliott cold, Hawks coach Larry Lesset took his chances with the rest of the team.

“I think our program at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore took some giant steps tonight,” Lesset said. “This got away because we are still young. Everybody I got is young. There’s nobody in the MEAC that has the kind of players that George Washington does.”

GW guard Maureece Rice made three 3-pointers in the first half to keep the Hawks’ zone somewhat honest. After falling behind 20-15 with 7:57 left before halftime, the Colonials used their superior athletic ability to claim a 33-29 halftime lead. Rice scored 11 first-half points and finished with a team-high 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Antonio McMillion led the Hawks with 19 points, including 12 in the first half, and 11 rebounds. At times, the 6-foot-5 senior looked like the most polished player on the floor, scoring on easy layups along the baseline.

“I think we got a little complacent at halftime,” he said. “We saw the score, and we were only down by a couple baskets. If we can stick with them for 20 minutes, we should be able to stick with anybody in the MEAC for 40.”

The last 20 minutes were the difference for GW, which shot 63.0 percent (17-for-27) in the second half after shooting 37.1 (13-for-35) in the first. The Colonials also outrebounded the Hawks 42-35, with 15 of those coming at the offensive end.

The game served as a tuneup for the Colonials, who will make the first of two trips to the West Coast when they take on Southern California (5-2) in the Wooden Classic on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

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