- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Steve Pikiell helped build George Washington into an Atlantic 10 champion and NCAA tournament team before leaving as Karl Hobbs’ top assistant last season to become coach at Stony Brook. Last night he returned to Foggy Bottom and was the latest victim of the Top 25 program he helped create.

The No. 16 Colonials ended their parade of games against nonconference foes with an 88-60 sinking of the Seawolves before 3,234 at Smith Center. GW is 10-1 outside the Atlantic 10 and 13-1 overall.

“It was weird,” Pikiell said. “I was here from Day 1 with this program. Boy are they good, athletic and deep.”

The Colonials are off to their best start since the 1953-54 season, when they opened 19-1.

Pikiell’s Long Island program offered little resistance as the Seawolves missed their first five shots and committed three turnovers before finally scoring with 15:31 left in the first half as Mike Popoko’s midrange jumper cut GW’s lead to 13-2. Things didn’t improve much for Stony Brook after that.

“It’s encouraging,” Hobbs said of the fast start. “We weren’t able to do that against Saint Louis or Marshall [both overtime wins]. Our offense is starting to come together.”

The Colonials won their fifth straight and improved to 9-0 at home by continually beating the Seawolves (3-12) downcourt for fastbreaks when they weren’t pounding it inside to their superior big men for easy baskets. GW also seemed to have solved its early season 3-point-shooting issues by making five of its first eight from long range.

Danilo Pinnock (11 points) began the barrage with a 3-pointer from the left corner. Mike Hall (12 points) later added another 3-pointer from the right side off a skip pass from Pinnock to make it 10-0. GW finished with an incredible 22 assists on its 27 field goals.

GW used an eight-point run to go up 23-6 on a 3-pointer from Regis Koundjia with 12:10 left. Later Carl Elliott added one from beyond the top of the key that pushed the lead to 34-14. The Colonials shot 50 percent (7-for-14) on 3-pointers while outrebounding their smaller opponents 20-12 to take a 47-30 advantage into intermission.

Mitchell Beauford led Stony Brook with 19 points.

The Colonials led by as many as 30 midway through the second half. It was the latest mismatch on GW’s nonconference schedule against an embarrassing quantity of uncompetitive fodder.

The combined record of the Colonials’ 11 non-A-10 foes going into last night was 61-104 (37 percent). Only No. 14 N.C. State (14-2), No. 22 Maryland (12-4) and Kennesaw State (8-7) had winning records. N.C. State handed GW its lone defeat 79-58 on Dec. 30.

As a result of their nonconference slate (GW’s strength of schedule was 261st out of 331 Division I teams going in, according to cbsportsline.com), the Colonials probably need to rival their program record of 24 wins, set in 1954-55 and matched in 1997-98, to have a chance of earning an NCAA tournament at-large bid.

Hobbs said the schedule won’t change much next season.

“We are going to schedule as many home games as possible like any other Division I basketball team,” said Hobbs, who had seven nonconference games at Smith Center. “We want to continue doing that.”

GW will face one of its toughest tests of the season Saturday when it returns to conference play with a visit to Charlotte (10-6, 3-1 A-10).

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