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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Game Diary (Part II)
George Washington 62, Dayton 59

I can't believe I just saw that. Carl Elliott made a prayer of a shot with the clock running out. He let it fly underhanded from just inside halfcourt, and it found its way into the basket, and probably into ESPN's highlight reels. I figure it's at least a little karmic playback for the desparation heaves that have cost GW two games at home, one to UMass, the other to Xavier.

Dayton came out shooting from the perimeter and were making shots, but fortunately the Colonials were able to counter as Mike Hall and T.J. Thompson heated up. Karl Hobbs' halfcourt defense was holding up reasonably well, not giving up easy shots, agressive but not reckless.

Then they died what they always seem to do for a 8-minute stretch - they died. They were getting beat on the boards, couldn't stop throwing the ball away, trying to force what wasn't there. The defensive pressure was still on, but making perimeter. If a team that doesn't much in terms of perimeter threats can't get penetration, they can't afford not to make the most of every shot they make. They still got some key turnover, but they couldn't finish and sometimes couldn't even start. The efforts to force the ball into Mensah-Bonsu did help get the Colonials into the double bonus, but didn't lead to points and frequently led to turnovers.

People will talk about Elliott's miracle shot, but the real heroes of the game are Mike Hall, whose key three pointer helped kill the Dayton momentum that threatened to leave the Colonials in the dust at one point, and T.J. Thompson, whose 4-for-4 in free throws the final two trips up the floor knotted the score at 59 going into the final minute of the game.

They've now beaten Temple and Dayton on the road, neither of which is earth shattering, but sets them up for a situation where beating St. Joseph's at home and Rhode Island on the road would give them 20-regular season wins. 20 wins, including Michigan State (who are definitely going to the Big Dance,) Maryland (who are most likely going as well), and [if it were to happen] St. Joe's might at least put the Colonials in the conversation if things break right. A loss to Dayton would have been the final nail in that coffin.

The easier thing to do would be to get the first round bye in the A-10 tournament and win three games, claiming the auto bid and ending all doubt. It'd be easier than trying to explain the weak RPI and even weaker Strength of Schedule to the selection committee.


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