- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

If there was any question about a power shift in the Atlantic 10, George Washington put it to rest.

The No. 17 Colonials defeated Saint Joseph’s 82-70 behind a boisterous season-high crowd of 4,356 at Smith Center and some suffocating first-half defense.

“We wanted to have our defense generate some offense for us,” GW coach Karl Hobbs said. “We scored 23 points [in the first half Wednesday night] against St. Louis. … We wanted our defense to create some opportunities for us and it did. And I think that got us off to a terrific start.”

GW controlled the contest from start to finish. The Colonials jumped to a 10-3 advantage and never led by less than five after the ensuing Hawks basket. A 16-2 spurt pushed the lead to 21 in the first half, and GW’s advantage was in double digits for the final 15 minutes.

The Colonials improved to 12-1 overall and 3-0 in the A-10, a conference that Saint Joseph’s (6-7, 1-3) has dominated during the past five seasons.

“They have a lot of pieces,” St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli said. “I like the way that they defend. They really come at you and they challenge you to be skillful. … I don’t really think the score was indicative of the spread. I think they dominated the game.”

GW’s defense certainly dominated play in the first half, harassing the Hawks into tough shots. St. Joe’s made eight of 28 field goals in the first 20 minutes, including one of 11 from beyond the 3-point line. Sharpshooters Chet Stachitas and Abdulai Jalloh, who helped St. Joe’s make more 3s than any other A-10 team coming into the game, missed six of seven in the first half.

While the Colonials defense forced only eight turnovers in the first half, they were able to turn missed shots into easy opportunities at the other end.

“I think we were very intense and put a lot of ball pressure on them,” junior point guard Carl Elliott said. “Coach wanted us to come out and pressure their guards, make them do things out of duress. That’s what we did.”

After GW stretched the lead to 21, St. Joe’s made a charge to get back within striking distance. The Hawks’ 1-2-2 zone slowed the GW offense and the St. Joe’s shooters found their strokes.

The Hawks closed the half with eight of the final 10 points and Stachitas started bombing away from the left wing after the break. St. Joe’s started the second half with an 11-3 run — which included three 3s by Stachitas — and cut the advantage to 41-34.

Better ball movement at the Colonials end produced more open shots against the zone and GW quickly pushed the lead to a comfortable margin. The Colonials, who shot poorly from beyond the arc in the first half (one of seven), drilled five of seven 3-pointers in the second half.

Three of those came from Elliott, who finished with a career-high 20 points before fouling out. The other two came from versatile forward Mike Hall, who netted his 22nd career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Danilo Pinnock had 18 points for GW, including 13 in the first half on a variety of slashing shots.

“I’m very, very impressed with their balance. I don’t really know where you go to take them away,” Martelli said. “If the other team sees that they draw GW [in the NCAA tournament], they’re going to take a gulp. It’s going to be a long pause because it’s a very taxing style that they run both physically and mentally.”

Stachitas and Dwayne Lee led the Hawks with 14 points each. St. Joe’s leading scorer Jalloh, from District Heights, missed six of eight shots from the floor and finished with nine points.

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