- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2001


PHILADELPHIA For the first half, George Washington was asleep at the wheel. Good thing the Colonials woke up or they would have crashed out of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Powered by a 17-0 early second-half run, the seventh-seeded Colonials put away stubborn No. 10 seed Duquesne 88-65 in the first round of the A-10 tournament last night at the Spectrum.

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Sophomore guard SirValiant Brown led all scorers with 21 points. Freshman guard Greg Collucci came off the Colonials' bench and added a career-high 16 points. Brown and Collucci combined to score 23 of GW's 59 second-half points as the Colonials enjoyed a 59-35 edge to put the game away.

GW (13-17) will face second seed Xavier (21-6) in tonight's quarterfinals.

For Collucci, a dangerous shooter from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., this was his second consecutive big game. In Saturday's regular-season finale against Temple, Collucci scored a then-career high 15 points by making five of seven shots behind the 3-point arc.

"Greg is a great shooter, and he's developing other skills," coach Tom Penders said.

In this one, though, Collucci was a spark the Colonials desperately needed. He missed only one shot in the game a follow-up in the lane and made three of four shots from the floor, including 2-for-2 behind the 3-point arc. Collucci was also 8-for-8 from the free throw line.

"My job is to spot up and sting them when they lay off me," Collucci said. "They played a little zone and were slow to rotate out. I got good looks, and [the shots] went down."

GW junior forward Jaason Smith contributed 11 second-half points.

However, as well as GW closed out this game, the first half was something totally different. The Colonials came out tight and skittish in the first half.

"For some reason, our guys were looking for the early knockout punch," Penders said.

Penders praised his team's defensive effort throughout the game. However, if not for the second-half offensive explosion, the Colonials might have been upset. GW's 59 second-half points were the school's second highest for one half. The high-octane Colonials scored 63-second half points against Howard in the third game of the season.

GW also helped their cause by shooting 18-for-18 from the free throw line in the second half.

"We came out very motivated in the second half because of Coach, and we did what we had to do," said GW senior guard Mike King.

During the season, the Colonials were the A-10's third-most explosive offensive unit, averaging 74.2 points. But at the 10-minute mark of the first half, GW was only 5-for-17 from the floor, and the scoreboard showed just 10 points.

GW opened the game trying to establish 6-foot-9 center Attila Cosby, but the strategy didn't work. The Colonials couldn't get the ball in to their highly touted post. GW's soft lobs turned into turnovers when Duquesne players jumped in front of Cosby.

When GW was fortunate enough to get the ball to Cosby, the Pitt transfer would lose the ball. Cosby turned the ball over three times in 14 minutes.

The Colonials quickly abandoned the Cosby idea and went back to their perimeter-oriented game. Brown, the nation's top returning scorer (24.6 points) this season, carried GW in the first half.

Brown, who was forced to play point guard because of an ankle injury to senior Bernard Barrow, didn't let the playmaking responsibilities interfere with his scoring as he used his superior quickness to beat Duquesne defenders to the basket. Brown scored 11 points in the half on 5-for-10 shooting.

GW's lack of scoring fell on sophomore Chris Monroe's shoulders. Monroe, who was named to the A-10's third all-star team, came in as GW's leading scorer averaging 19 points, but he scored just five points in the half on 2-for-11 shooting.

GW heated up a little bit late in the first half when Brown went to work. The Colonials finished the half shooting 13-for-33 (39.4 percent). In addition to their sporadic shooting, the Colonials were sloppy, turning the ball over 10 times.

The Dukes controlled the first half, mostly by default. The Colonials took an early 6-4 lead on Brown's foul-line pull-up jumper. That was the last lead the Colonials enjoyed in the half.

GW's largest deficit was seven points with 7:34 left before halftime. In the final 2:20, GW went on a 9-5 run and went into the locker room trailing 30-29.

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