- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 19, 2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — George Washington showed no fear in its first NCAA tournament in six seasons. It was the aggressor, pushing the ball against Georgia Tech in a fast-paced, entertaining contest.

The Colonials still might be in the tournament if they had made some more free throws.

The Yellow Jackets eliminated the Colonials 80-68 last night in the Albuquerque regional at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Fifth-seeded Georgia Tech, which lost in the national title game last season, used a late 12-0 run to break open a tight game. GW made only four of 16 free throws, including just one of its first 10.

Jarrett Jack led the Yellow Jackets with 20 points, while teammate Will Bynum added 15 points. GW received strong performances from J.R. Pinnock (12 points) and Mike Hall (13 points).

However, team catalyst T.J. Thompson struggled on a 2-for-11 shooting night, and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (15 points) was limited by foul trouble.

Georgia Tech (20-11) will meet Louisville in the second round. The Colonials (22-8) failed to win their first NCAA tournament game since 1994 and saw their four-game winning streak snapped.

The Colonials had their chances before the partisan crowd, but coach Karl Hobbs’ squad made some key mistakes and hurt itself at the foul line.

The Colonials took their first lead since early in the first half on Hall’s 3 pointer, which bounced off the rim well above the backboard and then dropped in to make it 43-42.

The Yellow Jackets regained the lead on Anthony McHenry’s basket, but GW immediately answered as Mensah-Bonsu finished a fastbreak with a dunk to give the Colonials a 46-45 advantage. Georgia Tech regained the lead on Luke Schenscher’s two free throws with 17:16 left after drawing Mensah-Bonsu’s third foul.

Georgia Tech built a 55-50 lead, but GW rallied again with back-to-back baskets by Mensah-Bonsu and Omar Williams. GW had a chance to take the lead, but Bynum stole the ball and converted a twisting layup to make it 57-54.

After J.R. Pinnock’s fastbreak layup cut Georgia Tech’s advantage to one, the Yellow Jackets took control with a 12-point run. B.J. Elder’s basket started the stretch, and Bynum added a leaner to make it 61-56. After Mensah-Bonsu missed a difficult inside shot, Jarrett Jack drilled a 15-footer. Bynum went around the defense for a reverse layup, and another Jack basket made it 69-56.

The run finally ended on Mensah-Bonsu’s dunk with 4:43 left.

Georgia Tech led 40-35 at halftime after making six of 12 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Colonials had an 18-10 advantage in points in the paint as Mensah-Bonsu made all four of his field-goal attempts.

GW had a chance to tie in the half’s closing seconds when Thompson came off a screen at the top of the key before missing a 3-pointer. Instead, Georgia Tech went on a fastbreak capped by Jarrett Jack’s layup with nine seconds left.

Both teams’ big men had foul problems early. Mensah-Bonsu drew Schenscher’s second personal with 17:21 left in the first half, and the 7-foot-1 Australian played only four minutes and had no points at halftime. Mensh-Bonsu picked up his second foul with 7:45 left and sat for the rest of the half.

The game began at a frenetic pace, with Williams feeding Mensah-Bonsu for an alley-oop 12 seconds in. The Yellow Jackets built a 13-8 edge thanks to three 3-pointers, but the Colonials later produced a 6-0 run capped by Mensah-Bonsu’s power move on the inside to take a 21-20 lead.

The lead was short-lived. Bynum nailed an NBA-range 3 to make it 24-21. Georgia Tech took its biggest lead of the half at 27-21 on Jack’s 3-pointer.

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