WASHINGTON (AP) - The schedule has recently paired George Washington against power conference schools. The surging Colonials have shown they are up to the challenge.
Isaiah Armwood scored 20 points and Kethan Savage matched his career high with 18 as George Washington continued its best start since the 2005-06 season with a 93-87 win over Rutgers on Wednesday night.
Maurice Creek also scored 18 points and Nemanja Mikic 14 for the Colonials (7-1), who had five players score in double figures and survived knockdown shooting from Rutgers for the opening 30 minutes. George Washington shot 52.6 percent from the field and scored 40 points in the paint in its return home after wins over Miami and No. 20 Creighton at the Wooden Legacy in Southern California.
"We're happy where we are," George Washington coach Mike Lonergan said. "We've got a long ways to go, that's for sure, but I really like our team. I think they really like each other. I think we have good chemistry."
Myles Mack scored 26 points for Rutgers (4-5), which has lost two straight and four of five. Jerome Seagears, out of the starting lineup for the first time this season, scored 23. Both guards made 5 of 7 3-pointers, and the Scarlet Knights shot 13 of 27 from beyond the arc.
By going inside to Armwood and Kevin Larsen (11 points), George Washington turned a 38-36 halftime lead into a 50-40 advantage less than 5 minutes into the second half. Attacking Rutgers' foul-plagued frontcourt, the big-man pairing scored the Colonials first 10 points in the second half.
"In the second half, Coach made an emphasis to get the ball inside," Armwood said.
Rutgers responded by making six straight field-goal attempts only to be offset by three 3-pointers by Mikic.
"Those were huge baskets," Lonergan exclaimed. "Both teams shot over 50 percent so we had to be hot from 3 tonight."
Leading 70-67 with 4:53 remaining, the Colonials made four straight free throws and Kevin Larsen's layup made it 76-67 with 3:37 remaining. Savage made 12 of 16 of free throws overall, and the Colonials made 12 of 14 over the final 1:25.
Mack and Seagears made a combined 17 of 25 shots from the floor. Kadeem Jack scored 12 points and J.J. Moore had 11.
The final rebounding totals suggested a close contest in that department. That wasn't the case. With less than 8 minutes remaining, Rutgers had only one offensive rebound and George Washington held a 29-13 rebounding edge. Armwood and Joe McDonald each had nine for the Colonials.
"We just didn't do it," Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said.
In his first season with his alma mater, Jordan returned to his hometown where he also coached the NBA's Washington Wizards from 2003-2008. Jordan and Colonials coach Mike Lonergan both attended Washington's Archbishop Carroll High School.
The Scarlet Knights opened a 29-23 lead, making 12 of 16 field-goal attempts, but only scored seven points over the final 8:18 of the first half. George Washington scored the next eight points and closed the half with a 15-7 run for a 38-36 halftime lead. Creek and Mack each scored 11 points.
"We wanted a higher-tempo game and we were pretty successful doing it, first half," Jordan said. "Then we just couldn't get stops."
The former Atlantic 10 rivals have played in consecutive seasons after not facing each other since 1995.
Last season the Colonials started four freshmen and finished 13-17. With a more experienced roster this campaign, their only loss came against then-No. 25 Marquette. On Sunday comes another power-conference test against Maryland.
McDonald, who had seven of his season-high nine assists in the first half, left the game inside the final 2 minutes after taking a fall and suffering an apparent hip injury, Lonergan said. George Washington played without guard Patricio Garino (finger).