GW overwhelmed by No. 5 Temple

Over the past decade, GW hosted three top 10 teams at the Smith Center and sent all three home with losses.

Over the past two decades, GW hosted Temple 15 times and lost all but once.

One trend was going to fall Saturday when No. 5 Temple visited Foggy Bottom, but in the end, it was GW that fell. Hard.

The Owls hit open shots, contested shots, and everything in between Saturday afternoon en route to a 98-67 annihilation of the Colonials in front of a sell-out crowd of 5,454.

I’m shocked, because as long as I’ve been in this game, I’ve never seen a team shoot like that, Temple Coach John Chaney said. I don’t know what got into them. I think they should be tested.

I really felt like they could have beaten anybody in the country today, Coach Tom Penders said.

The nearly flawless offensive effort made the Owls’ vaunted defense an afterthought. The severity of the loss also served as a reminder to the Colonials (15-14, 9-7 A-10) of just how much work lies ahead before GW can challenge the top of the Atlantic 10 and the basketball world.

The outcome of the Senior Day game was basically meaningless as the Colonials had already clinched the first-round bye in the A-10 Tournament and the .500 record they’ll need for NIT consideration. (In the A-10, the Colonials finished tied for second with Xavier in the West, but grabbed the bye by virtue of the Musketeers’ 65-64 loss to St. Bonaventure Wednesday. The Colonials topped the Bonnies Jan. 26.)

But no game with a No. 5 team is ever meaningless, as the students who lined up around the block for the ESPN-televised game knew well. Unfortunately, the opportunity for the young Colonials to announce their presence as an A-10 contender turned into an opportunity for the Owls (23-5, 14-2 A-10) to announce their greatness.

We lost to a team that, if they’re healthy and together, they have a really good chance to win it all this year, Penders said.

What was scary was that the Owls weren’t even together Saturday. Following a Thursday evening inquiry by Washington Post reporter Josh Barr into possible NCAA violations, Temple suspended its starting center, sophomore Kevin Lyde, for Saturday’s game. The Owls obviously didn’t miss him.

Penders had stressed that the Colonials would have to convert three-pointers to beat the Owls. To get things rolling, freshman guard SirValiant Brown’s first three-point attempt was an airball.

The Owls held GW without a field goal for the first five minutes of the game and led 10-3. The packed student section was eerily quite until freshman Chris Monroe drove down low for a layin and a foul to get GW’s first field goal. Seconds later, junior guard Bernard Barrow – almost in one motion – stole the ball from Temple point guard Juan Pepe Sanchez and laid it in for two. On the next trip, Barrow buried a three and GW led 11-10.

After falling behind again, the Colonials stormed back, and the Owls faded. Several players got into a little foul trouble, highlighted by a charge Brown took on Sanchez.

Brown hit his first field goal with eight and a half minutes left then nailed GW’s first three to draw the Colonials within 25-24. Junior forward Jason Smith spun free for a layin on the next possession, and with six and a half minutes left, the boisterous crowd celebrated GW’s 26-25 lead and the apparent likelihood that the Colonials were going to hang with the Owls.

But that was it for GW, who had not lost on Senior Day since it hosted Temple in 1995. A 10-0 Temple run put the Owls on top and they never looked back. A Temple three at the halftime buzzer that gave the Owls a 46-30 lead was indicative of the almost perfect offensive execution the always-calm Owls displayed all afternoon.

Many times this season, GW has mounted dramatic second-half comebacks, but the second chapter was just more of the same.

The Owls continued to pour it on. By the 10-minute mark, Temple’s fans, who had taken over the gym, began chanting It’s all over. The GW crowd, which stayed until the end, didn’t revive until the Colonials’ two walk-on seniors, Sam Anyan and Mark Lund, got into the game.

With one second left, the Owls’ matched their biggest lead with a dunk that gave them a 98-64 advantage. But Smith swished a three that actually came after the buzzer, but the referees counted it. It was a small blessing for GW and Tom Penders. The three meant that the margin only tied the record for a GW loss at the Smith Center – a loss that just happened to come in 1988 on ESPN to Tom Penders’ Rhode Island team (92-61).

The good news was GW scored more points on Temple than anyone in the A-10 had all year. The bad news was Temple scored more points than it had since 1989. Overall, the loss was the Colonials’ worst since a 79-48 loss at UMass two years ago. The Colonials came back to beat the Minutemen 88-83 in the A-10 Tournament that year.

After the numbers were added up Saturday, the Owls’ dominance was readily apparent. Although GW’s sparse record-keeping may have missed some record-breaking performances Saturday (like 11 three-pointers and 29 assists by Temple), these are for sure: The 98 points tied the Smith Center record for an opponent. The margin was the biggest between the teams since 1960. Pepe Sanchez’ 14 assists set a new Smith Center record while Sanchez’ seven steals was the most anyone not named Shawnta Rogers had ever notched at the Smith Center.

Temple shot 59.7 percent overall and a staggering 11-of-17 from three-point range (64.7 percent). Senior guard Quincy Wadley led all scorers with 21 points on 6-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. All but two Owls shot at least 50 percent.

GW didn’t appear too low after the loss, though. Despite the hot streak GW has had these past few weeks, it wasn’t that much of a shock to see how much better Temple was.

Our kids played as hard as they possibly could, Penders said. But we just didn’t have the firepower or the personnel . (Temple) is everything they’re cracked up to be and maybe more.

I told the guys after the game, I watch a lot of college basketball, and I’ve been seeing a lot of great teams getting beat by 40 sometimes. You can’t get down about one game.

I don’t think (GW has) the kind of inside players that gives them the balance yet, said Coach Chaney, who called Brown one great shooter but was effusive in praise for Monroe.

Oh my God, I wish I had him, he said. I’d trade three or four of my big guys for him. He’s some kind of player! Does he play football?

Monroe led GW with 19 points, including an 11-for-13 performance at the line. Smith had 18 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Barrow had five assists.

It took 29 games, but Brown finally scored in single digits, shooting 3-of-13 for a career-low nine points. Penders said he was suffering from strep throat and was intended as more of a decoy. He tallied five assists.

Brown is now averaging 24.3 points per game, short of Fresno State University’s Courtney Alexander, who has a 25.6 average. Brown’s chances of becoming the first freshman to lead the nation in scoring will probably depend on Alexander playing himself out of the top spot in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament or the NCAA Tournament. Brown now has 705 points on the year, more than anyone else in the nation and 18 short of Bob Tallent’s 1969 GW record.

Despite the blowout, Coach Chaney was hardly satisfied and chewed his team out at halftime despite the huge lead.

They certainly didn’t do the things I told them to do, he said. Maybe I shouldn’t tell them anything.We shot the ball well, but we’re not a great team.

Everyone else in the building begged to differ, particularly Penders, who knew the challenge was great, but he said it got even greater when Temple lost to St. Joseph’s Tuesday night.

Temple can do that to anybody, he said. They’re a great basketball team, and you never want to play them after a loss.I could hear John’s voice coming through the air conditioning. He was jacked.

Three of GW’s last
five games have been on ESPN or ESPN2. Although any program craves television exposure, this might not have been the best-case scenario.

Well, we’ve been on TV a lot in these last few weeks, Penders said. I hope they watched all the games.

Despite the loss GW can still lay claim to being the second-best team in the A-10 West, fairly miraculous considering the 6-11 (0-4 A-10) start. The 9-7 A-10 mark also means GW avoided its first losing A-10 season since 1989-’90.

I am so proud of this team and how far they’ve come to win nine of our last 12 and to put ourselves in the second seed in the tournament, Penders said. This team has overachieved in the regular season with all the things that have happened to us. And now I want them to relax, have some fun, and play well in the tournament. They wanted this for the seniors and the crowd was great – but those kinds of things don’t affect Temple.

The good news is that by getting the bye, the Colonials have given themselves a more realistic chance at winning the A-10 Tournament. The bad news is that to do that, they’ll still have to go through Temple. If GW can beat the winner of the Duquesne/UMass game Thursday at 2:30 p.m., they will most likely face Temple again Friday night.

In the A-10, you have to go through Temple, Penders said. Nobody’s infallible, but you have to hope they’re having an off-game, and you’re having your best one.

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