George Washington Comes Up Short Against No. 12 UConn
Colonials coach Karl Hobbs loses to his former mentor 67-55 in season opener.
Nov 25, 2002
By DONNA TOMMELLEO
HARTFORD, Conn. - When Connecticut couldn't hit a shot from the field, the Huskies turned to their man in middle.
Emeka Okafor responded.
The sophomore center scored nine points in the first nine minutes of the second half and finished with 12 rebounds and eight blocks as the 12th-ranked Huskies held off George Washington 67-55 on Monday night.
"We were just stagnant. Nothing was moving," Okafor said. "I felt whatever jump start we could get would help the team."
Okafor's second-half spurt was part of a 15-2 run that gave UConn its largest lead of the game at 52-38. The Huskies (2-0) needed all of it because they made just one field goal over the final 14:40 and finished with 35.6 percent shooting from the floor.
Tony Robertson led the Huskies with 21 points after shooting 4-of-5 on 3-pointers in the first half.
"This team is going to have to work a lot harder to get a lot better," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "It was nice to get a win. I'm not overly disappointed, but I wasn't too pleased."
The game pitted Calhoun, UConn's winningest coach, against his former assistant, Karl Hobbs, now in his second year at George Washington.
UConn never trailed but needed Robertson's four 3-pointers in the first half to stay ahead of the hard-charging Colonials (0-1). UConn shot just 36 percent in the half and committed 10 turnovers, but the Huskies controlled the boards, scoring 11 points off offensive rebounds.
Ben Gordon had 17 points for UConn. Okafor finished with 13 points and a team-high four steals.
The Huskies led by as many as nine in the first half, but back-to-back 3-pointers from Chris Monroe and a putback by Pops Bensah-Bonsu cut the lead to a point midway through the half.
Robertson scored the next six points, but the Huskies couldn't shake loose from the Colonials and held a 37-33 lead at the break.
"I really thought we played hard," Hobbs said. "If Connecticut gets 67 points, then I think we slowed the pace down. Anytime you come into Connecticut's building and hold them to 35 percent shooting, that's very difficult to do."
Both teams were nearly even in the paint. George Washington outrebounded UConn 46-45, but the Huskies outscored the Colonials 24-20 inside. UConn had the edge off the bench, getting 25 points from reserves while George Washington got 12.
Monroe led the Colonials with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Hall added 12 points and nine boards.
UConn has beaten George Washington five of the last six meetings, including an eight-point win last season in Washington.
Robertson said he knew Hobbs would have the Colonials ready for the Huskies.
"He wanted to beat his old coach," Robertson said. "I knew they were going to come at us. It was just a matter of how we were going to come back at them."