GW wins thriller

Colonials rally from 18-point deficit, then prevail in OT

George Washington 88 UNC Wilmington 85

Ncaa Tournament

March 17, 2006|By PAUL MCMULLEN | PAUL MCMULLEN,SUN REPORTER

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Down by 18 points with less than 11 minutes remaining last night, George Washington didn't blink. Wiping out a double-digit deficit for the fifth time this season, the eighth-seeded Colonials scored 19 straight and overcame North Carolina Wilmington in overtime, 88-85, in a first-round game in the Atlanta Regional.

Omar Williams, in transition, scored what turned out to be the winning points for the Colonials with 1:02 left in overtime. Carl Elliott, who could have won it in regulation at the line, made two of four free throws in the final 26 seconds to hold off the Seahawks.

Earlier this season, George Washington (27-2) was down 17 at Xavier and won.

"We've been in this situation before," coach Karl Hobbs said. "We've got a resilience."

The Atlantic 10 regular-season champions, ranked No. 6 in the country, recorded their first tournament win since 1994. Center Pops Mensah-Bonsu returned from a three-week absence after knee surgery and joined all five starters in double figures with 10 points, and sixth man Maureece Rice had a team-high 20 for the nation's only two-loss team, which will face top-seeded Duke tomorrow.

T.J. Carter, a junior guard who went to Chopticon High in Southern Maryland, scored a game-high 25 for ninth-seeded UNC Wilmington (25-8), the Colonial Athletic Association champion.

The Seahawks made 65.4 percent of their field-goal attempts in the second half, but missed five straight free throws in the second half and overtime.

UNC Wilmington's only basket in the overtime was a three-pointer by Beckham Wyrick that gave the Seahawks an 85-81 lead. They didn't score again, as Wyrick missed a 30-footer that would have forced another overtime.

Tied at the break, the Seahawks made their first seven shots, including a pair of three-pointers by Carter, to build a 53-40 lead. It grew to 64-46 with 11:11 remaining on a three-point play by Todd Hendley, before consecutive three-pointers by Carl Elliott and full-court pressure energized a desperate team.

The 19-0 spurt concluded with a pull-up jumper at the foul line by Danilo Pinnock that put the Colonials on top 65-64 with 6:54 left.

"They got after us," Carter said. "We knew it was going to be a game of runs."

UNC Wilmington took back the lead five times in regulation, the last on Carter's three with 24.7 seconds remaining. He blocked Elliott's three-point attempt with 11.6 seconds left, but was called for a foul. Elliott made the first two but missed the third. Carter missed a runner, and the Colonials couldn't get off a shot before the regulation buzzer.

George Washington became the first team to reach 70 points against UNC Wilmington since December.

paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

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