No. 25 Richmond 74, George Washington 70
George Washington coach Karl Hobbs could only smile and roll his eyes, as though he was thinking how much easier life would be with his own Kevin Anderson.
``The little guy, he makes you look special,'' Hobbs said Saturday night after Anderson had 24 points, including the go-ahead, 15-foot jumper with 1:22 left, and seven assists to lead No. 25 Richmond to its eighth consecutive victory, 74-70 over the Colonials.
``The last 8 minutes of the game, it was just Anderson making plays,'' Hobbs said.
The Spiders (22-6, 11-2 Atlantic 10) had 16 field goals in the second half, and Anderson made seven of them and assisted on five others. His jumper after a George Washington miss gave Richmond a 70-68 lead, and he doubled the lead with two free throws after a turnover.
But Anderson didn't want the credit all coming his way, choosing instead to praise the team's stiff defense in the closing minutes with giving him easy scoring opportunities.
``Our defense just got stronger and stronger late,'' the junior said. ``It's really our defense getting stops and allowing our offense to get easy points in transition.''
The Spiders' winning streak is their longest since 1997-98 and it kept them atop the conference standings heading into a week off and then a tough finish. Next Sunday, they play at Xavier. They also host Dayton and then finish at Charlotte.
Ranked for the first time in 24 years, the Spiders gave themselves high marks for handling recognition they embraced. The crowd of 9,025 was their largest at home since they played Syracuse in the 2002 NIT quarterfinals.
Getting a stiff test from the Colonials was even better, Ryan Butler said.
``We want teams' best shot because we think it's going to prepare us for what we're trying to do here toward the end of the season,'' he said, speaking of an NCAA tournament berth.
The Colonials (14-11, 4-8) arrived having won two in a row, but looked nothing like a team that headed home with its eighth loss in 11 games. They outrebounded the Spiders 42-30, had them scrambling on defense by continually attacking the basket and led 68-66 after Lasan Kromah's fourth 3-pointer with 2:48 remaining, quieting the Robins Center crowd.
But Kevin Smith tied it with a pair of free throws with 2:35 to play, and then Anderson took over. He also had another basket taken away when he was called for an offensive foul on a drive to the basket, but made two free throws after Smith's fourth steal of the game.
Smith finished the scoring with a breakaway dunk off a feed from Anderson.
Butler added 17 points, Smith 11 and Justin Harper and David Gonzalvez 10 each.
Richmond finished with 10 steals and only seven turnovers, the 11th time this season - and third consecutive game - that coach Chris Mooney's team had more steals than giveaways.
Kromah, just a freshman, scored a career-best 25 points for George Washington, but Tony Taylor was the Colonials' only other scorer in double figures with 14 points.
Richmond led 56-51 after Butler's fourth 3-pointer with 11:38 to play, and it was the largest lead for either team in the second half. Kromah answered that with a 3 of his own, and neither team led by more than three until the very end. The lead changed 11 times in the half, and it was tied for the fifth time when Smith made the two critical free throws.
The Colonials used a 22-8 run spanning nine minutes to turn a 15-6 deficit into a 28-23 lead with 2:41 to play before halftime, but were outscored 6-0 the rest of the half.
The Spiders shot just 1 for 13 from the field over the final 11:52 of the half, but still led 29-28 at the break. They were 11 for 13 from the free-throw line during the field-goal drought, when Harper's 3-pointer with 4:45 left was their lone basket from the field.