Howard was hot from the floor and led late in the first half against visiting George Washington. But there was a sense of impending doom at Burr Gymnasium.
Holding leads is problematic for a team with just seven scholarship players. When the opponent rotates 10 players and presses fullcourt, it's only a matter of when the collapse will occur -- not if.
On Sunday it happened at the end of the first half, and there was little the Bison could do about it in the second half of their 85-50 defeat.
Propelled by a rabid defense that forced 30 turnovers, GW (7-6) rolled to its most convincing victory this season. The Colonials suffocated the Bison in the second half when Howard (2-10) had more turnovers (17) than points (14).
"We raised our level of intensity," GW coach Karl Hobbs said. "I challenged them. I said, 'We're not playing any zone. We're playing straight up man-to-man. Keep the guys in front of you.'?"
Many of the turnovers produced breakaway layups and dunks, particularly at the start of the second half, when the Colonials scored 10 consecutive points to turn a five-point halftime lead into a 51-36 bulge.
"We were all relaxed. We all got steals," sophomore forward Dwayne Smith (12 points, five rebounds) said. "Today we had a lot of acrobatic, high, fast-break dunks. It was a great game to watch."
Eight Colonials had at least one takeaway. Of GW's 31 field goals, 19 were layups or dunks. Center Joseph Katuka (16 points, seven rebounds) hit six of seven shots, all in the paint, while freshman forward Nemanja Mikic (15 points) hit five of his eight shots, all from beyond the arc. Also contributing was junior guard Tony Taylor (11 points), who hit four of five shots.
The Colonials' bench contributed 25 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists and four steals.
"Our depth is our strong suit," Taylor said. "We can bring in fresh bodies, just doing the same thing, pressuring the same players that's been on the court. Fatigue was a factor."
Howard stayed close for a half behind the efforts of sophomore forward Dadrian Collins (16 points, five rebounds) and Mike Phillips (11 points, nine rebounds).