Mens Basketball Headed For BB&T Classic Championship Game
Dec. 4, 2004
WASHINGTON- An uplifting victory for George Washington left Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in a surly mood.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu scored 23 points, and George Washington forced No. 11 Michigan State into committing 22 turnovers Saturday in a surprisingly easy 96-83 victory.
T.J. Thompson had 18 points and Carl Elliott added 17 for the Colonials (4-1), who have won four straight following a season-opening loss to top-ranked Wake Forest. George Washington had dropped 12 in a row against ranked teams since defeating St. John's in December 2000.
"It's a tremendous win for our program," Colonials coach Karl Hobbs said. "We're trying to build some consistency, in terms of winning."
George Washington will face No. 12 Maryland on Sunday in the championship game of the BB&T Classic. Maryland advanced by beating George Mason 78-54 earlier Saturday.
"It's good that we won today," Thompson said, "but we still have another big challenge ahead of us tomorrow."
Michigan State (3-2) will play in the consolation game.
Maurice Ager scored 22 for the Spartans, who were coming off an 81-74 loss to Duke on Tuesday. After Michigan State cut a 15-point deficit to six with 5:27 left, the Colonials used a 10-2 run to pull away.
"I'm extremely disappointed in the way we handled things mentally, almost as much as physically, time after time," Izzo said. "We just did not play very intelligently. I thought they played harder and wanted it more. I'm embarrassed to say that."
The Spartans kept it close for 15 minutes, but the Colonials took an 11-point halftime lead and weathered every comeback attempt that Michigan State could muster in the second half.
"Their fast break was very good, but when you don't have anybody back it makes it easier," Izzo said. "I'm going to have to find lineups that play harder. The best players don't always play the hardest."
Izzo was impressed with Mensah-Bonsu, but attributed his 9-for-13 shooting performance in part to his team's lackluster defense.
"Paul (Davis) didn't do the job on him," Izzo said. "When an athlete plays hard he looks like a super athlete. They played hard."
Said Hobbs: "I thought the difference in the game was Pops was a lot quicker than their guy."
GW had five players score in double figures and went 9-for-14 from 3-point range.
Down 49-38 at halftime, the Spartans used a 3-pointer by Chris Hill and a layup by Davis to get within six. Minutes later, however, J.R. Pinnock scored from beyond the arc to spark an 8-0 run that put GW up by 14.
MSU then closed to 59-50 before Pinnock made a three-point play and Elliott sank a 3-pointer in a 7-2 spree that gave the Colonials a 67-52 lead with 12:45 left.
The Spartans again got within six, but couldn't complete the comeback.
In a first half that featured 11 lead changes and seven ties, GW forced 13 turnovers and used a late surge to take a double-digit lead at the break.
Up 35-34, the Colonials got two 3-pointers from reserve guard Ricky Lucas in a 10-0 run that upped the margin to 11. Ager ended the drought for the Spartans with a layup, but GW kept the pressure on right to the halftime buzzer.
"We got punched in the mouth," Izzo said, "and didn't respond very well."