Taylor scores 19 as George Washington halts four-game losing streak
St. Louis and George Washington are middle-of-the-pack teams in the Atlantic 10 that shuttle players in and out, trying to wear down opponents. For 35 minutes Saturday at Smith Center, however, all they wore down were the fans.
Strewn bodies, air balls, turnovers, and meandering possessions were the signatures of this unsightly game, saved ultimately by the stellar play of the Colonials in the final five minutes of a 52-46 victory before 2,050.
Junior guard Tony Taylor scored a game-high 19 points. Sophomore forward Dwayne Smith added 13 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks as GW (11-10, 4-3) halted its four-game losing streak, overcoming the clock-milking tactics of the Billikens.
|GW at Duquesne|
|Where » Palumbo Center, Pittsburgh|
|Radio » 1500/820 AM|
|After taking over a 3-24 horror show five years ago, Ron Everhart has made Duquesne (14-5, 6-0) relevant by cleaning house and drawing recruits with his up-tempo style ... Here’s how little success Duquesne has had through the years: Its current three-game road-winning streak is the longest in program history … The Dukes lead the nation in turnover margin (plus 6.9 pg) and rank second in assists (19.2 pg). Credit freshman PG T.J. McConnell (11.3 ppg, 4.7 apg) and senior G Bill Clark (17.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg) … Senior Damian Saunders (12.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.8 bpg) is a stellar defender … Duquesne has won the last three meetings with GW, once each the last three years.|
“This was definitely a pretty slow game,” said Taylor. “We play a fast-paced offense. We like to put a lot of points on the board. So we just had to deal with the fact that they were going to run the shot clock down.”
Depleted St. Louis (7-13, 2-5) frustrated GW for much of the game, dictating the tempo. When junior guard Kyle Cassity (10 points) hit a driving layup, it gave the Billikens a 38-33 lead with 14:22 to go. But after that, St. Louis went 13 minutes and 11 seconds without a field goal. GW clamped down, forcing five turnovers and eight missed shots over that span.
“I’d rather talk about just how good our defense was, particularly in the second half,” said GW coach Karl Hobbs. “Our game plan today was to put pressure on the ball.”
Taylor scored half of the points in a 14-1 run as GW took a 47-39 lead. After his layup made it 44-39 with 3:38 left and a timeout, GW pressured the inbound pass. Sophomore David Pellom (6 points, 3 rebounds) stole the ball and fed freshman Nemanja Mikic in the corner for a 3-pointer that finished off the run.
“Pellom’s very long,” said Hobbs of the 6-foot-8 forward. “It was a huge play. It sort of caught them off guard … We didn’t want them to bring the ball down and run one of their sets. They got four guys and any one of the four guys can make a shot.”
It was a demoralizing finish for St. Louis, bidding for its second straight road victory in the A-10 after winning at Fordham.
“You’re dealing with four freshmen,” said St. Louis coach Rick Majerus. “Guys are playing shortstop, who should be playing right-field, like Linus. Guys are playing pitcher, who have no business pitching.”
St. Louis lost its top two players, Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed, in the preseason for unspecified reasons. The duo averaged a combined 28.3 points per game last year as sophomores.
Still, St. Louis has compensated with discipline and with a little luck would have a better record. Nine of its losses have come by eight or fewer points.
“We’re a young team that has a tough time scoring and they get tightened up,” said Majerus. “It’s just one of those situations that’s tough right now.”
GW harassed St. Louis into 28.6 percent shooting from the floor in the second half. But they also got some help. During one comedic sequence, freshman forward Dwayne Evans air-balled a finger roll, got the rebound, then missed a clean layup.
St. Louis shot well early and held a 17-8 lead as Cassity and freshman Mike McCall hit 3-pointers and junior Brian Conklin added a 3-point-play. But Taylor answered with back-to-back 3-pointers and fed Pellom for a dunk as GW pulled close, 19-18.
The Colonels, however, struggled to develop any offensive flow. During a 22-minute, 54-second span that bridged the halves, Taylor and Smith were the only GW players who managed to score.
But everyone got into the act in the final five minutes, as GW finally benefited from the 6:30 a.m. shooting sessions Hobbs has begun to hold in an effort to halt the Colonials’ shooting woes.
“It’s all about individual skill work,” said Hobbs. “Hopefully it continues to pay off.”
Notes: GW harassed St. Louis into 28.6 percent shooting from the floor in the second half. But they also got some help. During one comedic sequence, freshman forward Dwayne Evans air-balled a finger roll, got the rebound, then missed a clean layup.