- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 10, 2006

ANAHEIM, Calif. — A 20-point led early in the second half proved insufficient for George Washington in the second game of yesterday’s John R. Wooden Classic.

Southern California not only rallied but also held the Colonials to their worst shooting percentage of the season during a 74-65 victory in front of 15,811 at Honda Center.

George Washington (6-2) made just 36.4 percent of its field-goal attempts and scored only two more points than the previous season low of 63 against Virginia Tech on Dec. 3.

Maureece Rice led the Colonials with 17 points but missed 10 of 16 shots from the floor. Carl Elliott added 11 points but scored only two points in the second half and missed 15 of 19 attempts overall.

The Trojans (6-2), who began the game ranked second nationally in field goal percentage defense, have yet to allow an opponent to shoot more than 40 percent from the floor.

“I thought they put great pressure on the ball and made it difficult for us to get into our initial offense,” George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. “There’s a reason why no one is getting 70 points on them.”

When Southern Cal wasn’t frustrating George Washington, the Colonials were sabotaging themselves.

“When we made steals, we couldn’t finish off the layups,” Hobbs said. “I think we missed five layups, just guys by themselves.”

One series of missed layups came with 16 minutes to play following one of Travis King’s three steals. After three misses, Southern Cal’s Nick Young blocked Rice’s shot and fell on the loose ball to secure the rebound.

“That killed our momentum,” Hobbs said. “I really thought that deflated us.”

That turning point came as George Washington held a 38-26 lead. The Colonials had built a 38-18 advantage with 18:15 to play but Southern Cal responded with a 12-0 surge.

Lodrick Stewart and freshman Daniel Hackett provided the Trojans’ offensive spark. Stewart scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half, while Hackett registered all of his career-high 18 points in that half.

Another Southern Cal freshman, Kyle Austin, guarded Elliott for most of the second half — and kept Elliott from scoring until 1:21 remained while playing a season-high 19 minutes.

A third Trojans freshman, Taj Gibson, exploited the foul problems that the Colonials’ Regis Koundjia and Dokun Akingbade were experiencing. Gibson grabbed 13 of his career-best 17 rebounds and blocked all three of his shots in the second half.

“During the last five minutes of the game, it became a battle of wills,” Hobbs said. “By that time we were a little worn down and they were able to get second shots off their backboard.”

With George Washington maintaining a 52-48 lead, Southern Cal made its move. Stewart had a pair of 3-point baskets during a 10-0 spurt that gave the Trojans a 58-52 lead with 1:27 left.

Stewart scored points on two baskets during a 9-0 spurt that gave the Trojans a 57-52 lead with 1:27 left.

“I thought Stewart was the difference,” Hobbs said. “He changed the game.”

Southern Cal expanded its advantage by making 16 of 18 foul shots in the final 1:16. The Trojans converted 33 of 38 free throws, compared to 10 of 18 for the Colonials.

King provided George Washington’s biggest highlight by scoring a career best 15 points while adding four assists and four rebounds.

“He played a really good game for a freshman,” Hobbs said. “He battled and he did all the things I like to see him do. You’ve got to be happy when a young guy gets you 15 points and plays good defense.”

Rob Diggs tied his career best with 10 rebounds and scored eight points during a season-high 35 minutes.

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