GW turns back Terps

Williams takes blame for loss as UM commits 25 turnovers

George Washington 78, Maryland 70

December 06, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH | HEATHER A. DINICH,SUN REPORTER

WASHINGTON -- As Maryland coach Gary Williams briskly walked out of MCI Center after his team's 78-70 loss to No. 19 George Washington in the BB&T Classic yesterday, he carried a crumpled piece of paper in his left hand.

It was the box score, and it looked like it had been through a washing machine.

No. 21 Maryland came within four points of the Colonials with 1:08 to play, but for the second year in a row, George Washington made a statement win over the area's premier program in an annual event that for the first time in 11 years featured entirely area teams.

As he stood against the brick wall outside of the team's locker room, Williams was subdued, and he shouldered the blame for his team's loss, despite 25 turnovers and an inability to rebound from a first-half deficit.

"I'm disappointed in myself," he said. "I've got to do a better job, that's all. That's what it comes down to. You have to do a better job in practice preparing a team. I take a lot of pride in that. We didn't execute very well tonight. I'll take that responsibility."

Despite shooting just 29 percent from the field in the first half, George Washington took a lead in the half and never trailed again - even though the Terps shot 56 percent from the field in the second half.

Both Danilo Pinnock and Maureece Rice scored a team-high 19 points to improve the Colonials to 5-0. Maryland dropped to 5-2, their only other loss of the season coming to then-No. 8 Gonzaga two weeks ago.

George Washington Coach Karl Hobbs said the team "didn't want to make too big a deal of the game," and Mike Hall, who had 12 rebounds, said the Colonials didn't.

"We didn't come into the game looking at it as the big challenge everybody tried to make it out to be because of the two area teams," Hall said. "It was just another game, just another win on the schedule."

The game-high 21 points by Maryland senior guard Chris McCray - including three consecutive three-pointers that tied the game at 51 in the second half - weren't enough for the Terps to make their fourth comeback of the season.

Maryland trailed 74-70 with 1:08 left in the game when George Washington scored four unanswered points - all free throws by Rice and Carl Elliott, who had a lump in the middle of his forehead that required stitches and left blood on the court in the first half.

It was a physical game, as three players - including Maryland point guard D.J. Strawberry - fouled out in the second half.

Yet even with senior forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu, an NBA prospect, on the bench for the final 6:49, Maryland couldn't rebound.

The Terps had crawled back to within one point, as George Washington held a 63-62 edge with 5:23 left to play, but the Colonials used a 9-1 run to pull away for good. Maryland trailed by as many as nine points, as two free throws by Pinnock at the 15:47 mark put the Colonials ahead 44-35. The Terps' 19-18 lead with 6:14 left in the first half was their last lead of the game.

McCray's three-point shot with 12:42 left to play closed Maryland's deficit to 48-45, but George Washington regained control with a three-point play by Pinnock. Again, though, McCray had an answer. His back-to-back three-point shots tied the game at 51 with 11:58 left and caused a deafening roar from the MCI Center crowd, which had reached its largest size of the day.

Maryland committed 14 turnovers in the first half, including a toss by Strawberry that went into the scorers' table with 2:37 remaining and his team trailing 26-21. It was reflective of an erratic first half, as Hall went head over heels into the crowd to chase a loose ball.

Elliott returned to the court with a bandage on his forehead, and he was charged with a technical foul after he slammed the ball down and sent it flying sky-high with his frustration after he was called with a foul.

Control of the game shifted throughout the first half. George Washington made the first two baskets of the game but then missed its next 11 shots while Maryland used a 14-1 run to take the lead. Strawberry and Gist combined for 10 of those points. Strawberry scored off of a steal and Gist, who returned to the starting lineup after a short bout with a stomach virus last week, followed with a basket off a behind-the-back assist by McCray.

Williams said George Washington was "on par" with Gonzaga, but that Maryland was the toughest team on its schedule to date, and it shouldn't be that way. He has said he favors a two-day tournament in which the Terps and Colonials each play a national team. In last night's two other BB&T games, Navy beat Howard, 82-73, and George Mason routed American, 75-35.

"It's not supposed to be a local tournament," Williams said. "It's supposed to be George Washington and ourselves [playing] outside teams. That's the way it has to be in the future."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

Carolina @No. 21 Maryland

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