George Washington Holds Off Saint Joseph's, 64-62
Pops Mensah-Bonsu scored the go-ahead basket with 23 seconds left and finished with 21 points in No. 8 George Washington's victory over Saint Joseph's on Saturday.
Feb. 11, 2006
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Standing under a banner that celebrated the Atlantic 10s last perfect team, Pops Mensah-Bonsu put his aim on George Washington joining an elite group of unbeatens.
Thanks to the big man in the middle, the Colonials are still on their way.
Mensah-Bonsu scored the go-ahead basket with 23 seconds left and finished with 21 points in No. 8 George Washington's 64-62 victory over Saint Joseph's on Saturday that gave the Colonials the best start in school history.
"We're trying to make some more history and keep it going," Mensah-Bonsu said. "We're trying to win as many games as possible and just keep it going."
George Washington used its 12th straight win to go 20-1 for the first time in the 89-year history of the program. The Colonials also improved to 10-0 in the Atlantic 10 and could become the first team to go unbeaten in A-10 play since the Hawks two years ago.
"I'm excited about. I think it's great," coach Karl Hobbs said. "I'm going to try as best as I can to enjoy it. I'm going to give it the ol' college try. It's a great honor, I truly believe it is."
George Washington's previous best start was 19-1 in 1953-54.
Playing with its highest ranking since 1956, the Colonials scored 20 straight points early in the second half, but that wasn't enough to put away the pesky Hawks (10-11, 4-6). Saint Joseph's took the lead twice in the final 2 minutes, once on two free throws by Dwayne Lee and again after a basket by Dave Mallon with 40 seconds left.
Mensah-Bonsu, though, answered Mallon's basket with the winning layup that fired up the smattering of Colonials fans sitting behind the basket. Carl Elliott added one free throw and Rob Ferguson's 3-pointer was off the mark to allow the Colonials to hang on for the win.
Mensah-Bonsu was 11-of-19 from the free throw line, while Maureece Rice scored 16 points for the Colonials and Mike Hall had 10 rebounds.
George Washington has consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons and won at Alumni Fieldhouse for the first time since 1998.
"We're in position to have a great season," Hobbs said. "That's all we've done, put ourselves in position to possibly have a great finish."
Ferguson finished with 14 points, and Chet Stachitas and Mallon each scored 12 for the Hawks.
For the Hawks, it was a repeat of their loss to No. 4 Villanova on Tuesday night. In that one, the Hawks' 12-point halftime lead was wiped out by the Wildcats' 21-3 run that opened the second half.
"We crumbled again," Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "Our maturity level in the second half has to be questioned. It's very disappointing. We showed toughness in the first half, but none in the first 12 minutes of the second half. It should not happen."
Mallon scored the first basket of the second half for a 35-25 lead, then the Colonials exploded with the 20-0 run. Rice, the former Philly high school star, put George Washington ahead 37-35 on a driving layup. Danilo Pinnock dunked, Mensah-Bonsu converted a three-point play and Omar Williams hit one of the Colonials' four 3-pointers to make it 45-35.
The Hawks missed an astounding 20 of 21 3-point attempts. Take away the 3s, and they were 24-for-34 from the field.
"Can you imagine? One-for-21 in your own building," Martelli said. "That's what keeps you up at night with this team."
George Washington stretched the lead to 59-50 when Rice converted a three-point play, then it suddenly went on a scoring drought. The Colonials didn't score again until Mensah-Bonsu's layup gave them a 61-60 lead with 1:20 left.
"We know we're going to get their best game, they were going to hit some shots and we've just got to stay poised. I think we were able to do so down the stretch," Mensah-Bonsu said.