- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

GW 83, XAVIER 74

PHILADELPHIA Halfway there.
George Washington provided the Atlantic 10 tournament with its first upset last night and moved within two games of taking the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that goes to the A-10 champion.
Four starters scored in double figures, as the seventh-seeded Colonials upset No. 2 seed Xavier 83-74 in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament at the Spectrum. GW will play Temple (19-12) in the semifinals tonight.
Sophomore guard SirValiant Brown led GW with 19 points. Senior guard Mike King scored 18 points. Starting center Attila Cosby added 13 points and eight rebounds, and sophomore guard Chris Monroe contributed 17 points and five blocked shots.
An early 8-2 second-half run, enabled the Colonials to take a 59-52 lead with 11:56 left. Jaason Smith, GW's 6-foot-8 junior, converted a three-point play when he was hacked by Xavier star David West on a followup and made the free throw. This was GW's biggest lead in a game filled with short runs.
"We played them as well as we did last time," GW coach Tom Penders said. "This time we didn't give it away."
These teams have met only once before in the A-10 tournament. Xavier beat GW 77-63 in the 1998 championship game.
Although GW had lost its last three meetings with the Musketeers, the last two weren't decided until the final possession in regulation, and the most recent meeting required overtime in Cincinnati on Feb. 3.
West quickly established his dominance. With only 5:13 expired, he had eight points and was on his way to a big night.
West, the A-10's Player of the Year, should not have been a surprise to the Colonials. On Feb. 3, he had one of the greatest individual performances in conference history at GW's expense, becoming just the fifth player in league history to record a 20/20 when he posted 26 points and pulled down 21 rebounds.
Xavier (21-7) swept the Colonials twice this season, and both times West came up big, averaging 26 points and 15.1 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 sophomore is not a true center but an ideal power forward at the college level.
Against an interior-deficient team like GW, West can play anywhere in the paint and be effective. The native of Garner, N.C., led all scorers in the first half with 17 points, virtually matching his team-leading 17.7 per game average.
To open the game, GW (14-17) tried 6-8 senior Antxon Iturbe on West. That didn't work because West used his superior athleticism to go around and over Iturbe. Seeing Iturbe get in foul trouble, GW coach Tom Penders pulled him for senior Patrick Ngongba, a more athletic player.
During the latter stages of the half, Penders used 7-foot junior Albert Roma on West. The different personnel looks, plus guards dropping down to double-team the A-10's leading rebounder, confused Xavier's guards. Instead of going to their meal ticket on every possession, the Musketeers were looking elsewhere, and the Colonials managed to tie the game 42-42 at halftime.
The Musketeers could have enjoyed a comfortable halftime lead if they had made more than 12 of 20 free throws in the first half. Their poor foul shooting allowed the Colonials to hang around.
Brown did his best to keep GW in the game. Brown, who scored a game-high 21 points against Duquesne in Wednesday's first-round game, paced the Colonials with 11 first-half points. He worked hard for his points by running the floor for layups and driving the lane for short pull-up jumpers.
King, Cosby and Monroe combined for 21 first-half points to complement Brown. Also, the Colonials' bench also outscored Xavier's 10-2.
The Colonials overcame five-and six-point deficits in the half and took an 18-17 lead with 10:39 left on a free throw by Cosby. The first half saw 12 lead changes and three ties.

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