The parade of patsies mercifully has drawn to a conclusion.
George Washington manhandled Maryland-Eastern Shore 98-72 at Smith Center yesterday. The 15th-ranked Colonials won for the sixth time at home and improved to 8-0 for the first time since the 1953-54 team started 11-0.
Having dispatched its final lightweight — the Hawks are 2-8 — GW will take a break before beginning the meat of its schedule, starting Dec.30 at No.21 N.C. State. The Colonials’ Atlantic 10 opener at Temple will follow the trip south. So far GW’s only significant victory is over No.17 Maryland.
“We know we got a big one when we come back from break,” said GW guard Danilo Pinnock, who had a team-high 18 points with four assists. “We have N.C. State down at N.C. State. I think everybody is ready for that one. Let me add a big piece of our team will become eligible with Regis Koundjia.”
Koundjia is a one-time blue-chip recruit who transferred to GW from Louisiana State. The versatile 6-foot-8 junior, who started as a freshman for the Tigers, will be available for the first time against the Wolfpack.
The Colonials will gain a player and possibly lose one as Omar Williams could be suspended one game by the NCAA for leaving the bench during an altercation. The starting forward was ejected after a scuffle ensued when Pinnock was undercut on a layup by Maryland-Eastern Shore’s Art Valentine in a foul-plagued contest.
GW coach Karl Hobbs said after the game “it is a question” whether Williams will be available, but since he did not get involved in the fracas, it appears Williams will be able to play.
The fiery confrontation in front of 2,952 was much more eventful than the game. Maureece Rice had 17 points and five assists for the winners, while GW center Pops Mensah-Bonsu added 14 points and nine rebounds. Colonials point guard Carl Elliott provided 16 points and seven assists as GW routinely beat the Hawks downcourt for easy scores.
“[Rice] and Carl Elliott are doing a great job of controlling tempo,” said Hobbs, whose team had 28 assists and only 14 turnovers. “That is what they are going to need to do throughout the season. If they continue to do that throughout the season, some special things will happen for us.”
Hobbs said he is satisfied with his team and its record, although he would like to see a few improvements as GW prepares to face better teams. The Colonials made 19 of 36 (52.8 percent) free throws.
The only dramatic moment was after Valentine undercut Pinnock, who was attempting to convert a breakaway layup with 4:20 left in the first half. Pinnock hit the floor hard as an intentional foul was called and immediately bounded up to go after Valentine.
Several players got involved in the pushing match as referees tried to pull the teams apart. No punches were thrown, but two players — Williams and Maryland-Eastern Shore’s Qavotstaraj Waddell — were thrown out after coming off the bench during the altercation.
“I don’t think it was a fight,” Pinnock said of the short altercation. “I think it was just a hard foul, emotions were running. It was nothing past that.”
GW used a 16-0 run late in the first half to put the game away with a 38-17 lead with 8:32 left. The Hawks had nearly a six-minute scoring drought because of bad shooting and GW’s relentless pressure. Meanwhile, the Colonials scored on 13 consecutive possessions at one point.
Mike Hall had widened the lead to 24-17 with an over-the-head slam in transition. A 3-point play by Rice off a botched alley-oop later pushed the lead to 14. Pinnock added an above-the-rim layup off a break. Hall’s 3-pointer and two free throws by Mensah-Bonsu made it a 17-point advantage.
Notes — Hall passed 1,000 career points with a 3-pointer early in the second half to make it 58-36, and has 1,001 points. He left the game in the second half with an ankle injury, but quickly returned.