- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 31, 2005

RALEIGH, N.C. — George Washington came to RBC Center last night unbeaten and on the verge of cracking the top 10.

But a 79-58 loss to N.C. State demonstrated how far the Colonials might be from joining college basketball’s elite.

“They were a better team than us,” GW coach Karl Hobbs said. “It was clear to me and I was right there watching it. I thought they had better basketball players. Their experience really showed itself.”

The No.12 Colonials (8-1) were never able to frazzle the No. 18 Wolfpack (11-1) the way they did Dec. 5 in a victory over Maryland. N.C. State’s veteran guards, Engin Atsur and Tony Bethel, combined for 14 assists and just two turnovers, preventing GW from converting easy baskets in transition.

The Colonials came to Raleigh as the nation’s fifth-best shooting team (52.1 percent), but hit just 18 of 59 attempts against the Wolfpack — a woeful 30.5 percent.

Nobody had a worse night than senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu, a 62.9 percent shooter, who missed 10 of 13 shots, including a number of point-blank chances in the lane.

“We had the ball inside and they took it from us,” Hobbs said. “Pops had a couple of shots inside — dunks he usually makes and he missed them. That really affected our shooting percentage. A large part of that had to do with their defense.”

GW led 9-5 in the early moments, but the Colonials went 81/2 minutes without a field goal to fall behind by double digits. A subsequent Wolfpack scoring drought allowed the Colonials to close within seven points late in the half.

But N.C. State scored the last five points of the first half and the first four points after the break to open up a 38-22 lead that the Colonials could not overcome.

Hobbs wasn’t surprised that N.C. State proved so formidable.

“Last time I checked, they played Duke, they played North Carolina, they played some team called Georgia Tech,” he said. “They’re used to playing against iron. This is a whole new environment for my team.

“You’ve got to understand, we’re just a program that’s clearly overachieving. I like the fact that people are trying to make us out to be more than that. This was a great opportunity for us to learn and become a better basketball team — no more and no less.”

Louisiana State transfer Regis Koundjia made his first appearance of the season for GW, coming off the bench with less than three minutes gone in the first half. Within a minute, the 6-foot-8 native of the Central African Republic hit a 3-point shot in transition. But Koundjia missed his next three shots and fouled out after scoring nine points in 19 minutes.

“I was very pleased with his first game,” Hobbs said. “He made his first 3, but I was more concerned with his effort sprinting back on defense. It’s going to take some time for him.”

GW was without 6-7 freshman Montrell McDonald, who was sidelined with the flu.

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