WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Pops Mensah-Bonsu got George Washington off to a fast start and No. 9 Michigan State never recovered.
Mensah-Bonsu scored 23 points and led five players in double figures to guide George Washington to a 96-83 victory over Michigan State in the semifinals of the BB&T Classic.
The Colonials, who won the tournament in 1997 and 1999 and are in the final for the sixth time in 10 years, will take on No. 12 Maryland in the championship game Sunday.
Mensah-Bonsu, a native of London, England, hit 9-of-13 shots in reaching 20 points for the fourth consecutive game and is shooting 73 percent (35-of-48) this season.
"I knew coming out if I started out very aggressive, my team would know that if we took on that type of tempo and that type of play, that if we stayed aggressive, then I knew we were going to have a chance to win the game," Mensah-Bonsu said.
The Colonials consistently beat the Spartans down the floor and forced 13 turnovers while shooting 51 percent (19-of-37) in the first half, finishing with a 14-5 run in the final 4 1/2 minutes to lead 49-38.
"Our speed and quickness is an advantage that we have," Colonials coach Karl Hobbs said. "I thought that was the difference in the game, to some degree. There were a few times when we were out of position defensively. But we were able to recover with our quickness."
T.J. Thompson scored two of his season-high 18 points on a jumper early in the second half to extend the the lead to 67-52 before Michigan State started to chip away.
The Spartans got within 79-73 when Shannon Brown nailed an alley-oop dunk with six minutes left but could get no closer.
Carl Elliott and Mike Hall scored season-highs in points with 17 and 14 respectively, as the Colonials shot 57 percent (36-of-63) in posting its highest point total this season.
"Today's game was great," Hobbs said. "I'm really happy for these guys. But I'll be screaming and shouting at them tomorrow. Obviously it's a great win to beat a team of that caliber. But hey, that's just one game. We're trying to develop consistency."
Maurice Ager scored a season-high 22 points and Chris Hill had 15 for Michigan State. The Spartans dropped their second straight game and committed a season-high 22 turnovers, after losing the ball 12 times in Wednesday's defeat against Duke.
"I thought it was important to us," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. "But the way we handled things mentally almost as much as physically, not getting back time after time, some of our most intelligent players just did not play very intelligent."
The Spartans will play George Mason in the consolation game Sunday.