Capital's Carrington Morris (left) defends against George Washington's Anthony Dean during Friday night's game.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A lot of talk before Friday's Capital-George Washington season opener centered on the Kanawha Valley return of Division I signee Jon Elmore, now playing at GW.
However, much of the talk after the game fixed on Capital senior guard Carrington Morris, who willed his team to an 83-73 victory in front of a capacity crowd of about 900 at GW High School.
Morris poured in 32 points and chipped in a little of everything with 10 rebounds, six assists and five steals.
"This is a better team than G-dub,'' Morris said. "I mean, I'm sorry to say it, but we prepare for every game like we prepared last season, and last season we didn't do too good [with a 10-15 record]. So we just try to come out and treat every game like they treated us last year.
"I'm out here trying to get my team involved. We're all trying to get to the next level, and I try to put myself in the places to do that.''
Elmore, a standout for two seasons at South Charleston before playing last year at Christ School, a prep school in North Carolina, had a rough start in Friday's homecoming, missing his first seven shots and going scoreless for more than 11 minutes.
But the 6-foot-3 senior guard, who's already signed with VMI, rebounded to finish with 29 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Still, it wasn't enough to rescue the Patriots from deficits as large as 18 points late in the third quarter. The closest they could get in the second half was 66-61 with 2:59 left and then 77-70 in the final minute.
"I thought we kept battling,'' said GW coach Rick Greene, "but we would come down and make a mistake, and when you get down like that, you just can't make any mistakes.
"And they were just better. Sometimes, somebody just beats you. They were deeper, they were quicker and we just couldn't catch up with their quickness. I'm discouraged, but not disappointed.''
Morris got scoring support from his low-post tandem of Bryce Goldsmith (14 points, six rebounds) and Brad Grose (13 points, 12 rebounds), who led Capital to a 43-30 edge off the boards.
In its man-to-man defense, Capital rotated four different players on Elmore - starting out with Jordan Kinney, then going to Tyrell Davis, Silas Nazario and even Morris on occasion. Elmore drew nine fouls and went 10 of 12 at the line to help offset his 8 of 23 shooting night.
"We were just trying to put some pressure on him,'' said Cougars coach Carl Clark, "and take the ball out of his hands, and see if that would work.''
Clark obviously liked the pace of the game, but wasn't thrilled with things like 22 Capital turnovers and missing five straight free throws in the final quarter to help keep GW in the game.
"I'm pleased that we won,'' Clark said, "[but] I saw a lot we've got to work on.''
Morris punctuated his big game with a breakaway slam dunk for Capital's final bucket. He went 10 of 16 shooting (including 4 of 7 on 3-pointers) and hit 8 of 10 free throws.
"Carrington had a fantastic night,'' Greene said. "A lot of their kids played well, but he was the difference. He got a bucket whenever he really wanted a bucket.''
After GW cut it to 66-61, Morris fed Brad Grose for a layup and then tapped the rebound of an Elmore miss to Nazario, who got the ball to Davis for a floater in the lane and a 70-61 lead.
Capital forced one of the Patriots' 17 turnovers and Nazario hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to bump the advantage to 11 with 1:57 left. GW was never again closer than seven.
Also for George Washington, Dominik King supported Elmore with 14 points and eight rebounds despite sitting out a chunk of the fourth quarter with a leg injury. Drew Baker came off the bench to sink three 3s and score nine points.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.