WASHINGTON (AP) -- In his first start since the season opener,
George Washington forward Mike Hall grabbed a career-high 17
"Check that stat," coach Karl Hobbs deadpanned.
"He took some of mine," forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu added.
Hall's explanation? "It just turns out the ball bounced my
way," he said.
Hall and the rest of the Colonials (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) crashed the
boards early and often Wednesday night and cruised to a 71-42
victory over undersized La Salle in both teams' Atlantic 10 opener.
T.J. Thompson had 16 points and Mensah-Bonsu had 12 points, 14
rebounds and four blocks for the Colonials (9-2), who outrebounded
the Explorers 60-26. GW took a double-digit lead 12 minutes into
the game and were never threatened.
"We had three keys," Hobbs said. "The first was defense. The
second was defense. And the third was rebounding."
Hall started in place of J.R. Pinnock, the team's third-leading
scorer, who was suspended earlier in the day for violating an
unspecified team rule. Hobbs said the length of the suspension
could be determined by whether the coach wakes up "on the right
side of the pillow" after thinking about it overnight.
George Washington, the only ranked team in the A-10, improved to
5-0 at home and rebounded from a loss at West Virginia that broke
an eight-game winning streak. The Colonials returned to the Top 25
this season after a six-year absence.
Steven Smith had 23 points, 11 rebounds and six turnovers, and
Jermaine Thomas had 12 points for the Explorers (3-8). No one else
on the team scored more than three points, and La Salle got zero
from its bench.
The Explorers shot 27 percent and failed to break 50 points for
the third time this season. Their size disadvantage was aggravated
when forward Sherman Diaz aggravated a groin injury and forward
Mike St. John fouled out. Also, coach John Giannini said forward
Lewis Fadipe was "not available," although the coach did not
"We just were not able to compete with a team like that
tonight," Giannini said. "Every liability and weakness that we
have was very exposed."
GW had a 27-10 rebounding advantage in the first half, including
14-1 on the offensive boards. Hall, Thompson, Ricky Lucas and
Lafonte Johnson all made 3-pointers in the first 8½ half minutes as
GW raced to an 18-9 lead. Five different players scored in an 11-0
run that built a 15-point lead, and Thompson's rainbow 3-pointer
just before halftime sent the Colonials into the locker room
La Salle's Smith, 16th in the nation in scoring, was given
little room to operate by defenders Omar Williams and Hall. The
Explorers had to rely on outside shooting, with 3-pointers
accounting for five of their seven first-half field goals.
The second half was sloppy on both sides. La Salle never got
closer than 20, but Hobbs' biggest complaint came when his team
started making careless turnovers with the big lead.
"We're not quite there yet. Folks want to put us there, but
we're not quite there," Hobbs said. "Because when you are there,
those are the sort of things you don't do, particularly in your own
building. Those are things we have to address in terms of
maintaining our focus."