Virginia Tops George Washington In NIT Opener, 79-66
March 17, 2004
By HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Todd Billet made five of Virginia’s 13 3-pointers in possibly his final home game and the Cavaliers beat GeorgeWashington 79-66 Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT.
Virginia (18-12), playing in the NIT for the third straight year and fourthtime in six seasons under coach Pete Gillen, will play Villanova on Saturday.
George Washington (18-12) was making its first postseason appearance sincethe 1999 NCAA tournament and playing in the NIT for the first time since 1997.
Billet, the lone senior who plays for Virginia, led the Cavaliers with 19 points. J.R Reynolds added 17 and T.J. Bannister had 11 and five assists.
J.R. Pinnock led the Colonials with 19 points, Pops Mensah-Bonsu had 13 andOmar Williams 12. George Washington lost despite outrebounding Virginia 44-32and getting 23 second-chance points to the Cavaliers’ 4.
Virginia played its best basketball of the season in the first 17:33, andled 48-31 before it undid almost all the good in eight minutes.
After Elton Brown’s two free throws 2:27 before halftime, Virginia missedits next seven shots and committed nine turnovers over the next 8:27, allowingthe Colonials to get within 48-43 early in the second half.
Billet broke the drought with a 3-pointer from the right corner, the firstof three in the next two minutes for the senior, fueling an 18-4 run thatrestored the margin to 66-47 with 11:08 remaining.
George Washington trimmed the lead to 74-66 on Carl Elliott’s 3-pointer with3:03 left, but the Colonials got no closer.
The Cavaliers led 48-33 at halftime after shooting 65 percent overall and 69percent from 3-point range, making nine of 13. George Washington only stayed init by getting 13 second-chance points to two for Virginia.