No. 7 Colonials Top Minutemen, 69-66
Pinnock scores 14 and grabs six steals in narrow home decision.
Feb. 15, 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) - Their postgame news conference done, George Washington coach Karl Hobbs looked up at Danilo Pinnock and said: "Make a layup, will ya?"
"I know," Pinnock replied. "I missed a dunk and a layup."
It was hard to choose which was worse Wednesday night: George Washington's shooting or Massachusetts' ball-handling.
But the seventh-ranked Colonials now have the nation's longest winning streak at 13 games, although the 69-66 victory over Massachusetts certainly won't get a featured spot in the Smith Center archives.
"I never felt like we were in control," Hobbs said. "We were missing plays that we normally make, and we weren't shooting it particularly well from the perimeter."
The Colonials (21-1, 11-0 Atlantic 10) shot 35 percent from the field, 54 percent from the free throw line and ended a 6-year home losing streak to the Minutemen - but only after a wild ending in which seven points were scored in the final 10 seconds.
After Maureece Rice scored for the Colonials, James Life made a 3-pointer that cut GW's lead to 67-66 with 3.1 seconds to play. Rice was then fouled, but he missed both free throws, and the ball was ruled out of bounds off UMass with 0.6 seconds to go. Chris Lowe of the Minutemen was called for a technical foul for arguing with the official, and Mike Hall made both free throws for the game's final points.
Afterward, UMass coach Travis Ford was less concerned about the ending and more concerned with one particular number.
"Twenty-nine turnovers didn't help us at all," Ford said. "Shooting 1-for-9 in 3-pointers in the first half didn't help us. But, man, they're a scrappy basketball team. They play in those spurts and that's what makes them good. They can afford not to play well in 2- or 3-minute spans. We can't. We're not good enough of a basketball team to do that."
Life finished with a season-high 25 points for the Minutemen (10-12, 5-6), who upset GW in overtime at the Smith Center a year ago. Lowe had 12 of his team's season-high 29 turnovers.
The Minutemen, averaging a league-worst 16.2 turnovers per game, found all sorts of ways to mishandle the ball. Lowe was whistled for palming twice. Brandon Thomas received a pass on the wing and just held the ball as the shot clock expired, oblivious to the screams from the bench that the seconds were winding down. Jeff Viggiano threw a bad pass toward the baseline that bounced out of bounds with no teammates within 10 feet.
The Minutemen had eight turnovers in the first 8 minutes, but the Colonials initially failed to capitalize because they missed 13 of their first 17 shots. George Washington built a 39-28 by halftime, but the second half started much like the first. The Minutemen committed six turnovers in the first 4 1/2 minutes, but the Colonials shot 4-for-11 over the first 8 minutes, keeping the game close all the way to the finish.
Pinnock led George Washington with 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting and had six of his team's 15 steals. Pops Mensah-Bonsu, neutralized by UMass' zone defense, scored 12 points on 2-of-3 shooting and made only eight of 15 free throws.
The Colonials also had a close call against Saint Joseph's on Saturday, and the nail-biters prompted Hobbs to get somewhat defensive about his team. He has downplayed the Colonials' Top 25 ranking all season, but he raised his eyebrows and did some rare bragging after yet another question about the team escaping with a victory.
"Just so you guys know," Hobbs said, "our record is 21-1."