The Colonials gave ESPN viewers and the Smith Center crowd of more than 3,000 little to get excited about on Saturday as the team fell to Temple 80-58. The loss extended GW’s losing streak to seven during its first and likely only national television appearance this year.
Coach Karl Hobbs’ team connected on less than 33 percent of shots from the field – with abysmal 18 percent shooting in the first half – and turned the ball over 20 times. GW is now on its longest losing streak in 12 years. The 1988-89 Colonials went 1-27.
Temple (10-12, 7-3) won its season-high fourth-straight game, using the Smith Center, where the Owls are 17-1, to notch its 10th victory of the season. Temple’s win represents a team that has recovered after starting the season with losing streaks of four and six games. The Colonials (10-12, 3-8), meanwhile, continue to sink.
Owls guard David Hawkins had a career-high 28 points with four steals, while Lynn Greer finished with 25 after going scoreless in the opening 14 minutes of the game.
Chris Monroe led GW in scoring for the 19th time this season with 20 points but was held to only four points on four field goal attempts in the first half. Monroe also helped out in the paint against Temple’s sizable frontcourt with 13 rebounds.
None of Monroe’s teammates were consistent on offense, and no other player scored in double figures. T.J. Thompson and Marquin Chandler combined to shoot three for 19 from the field.
Greg Collucci sank one of 11 attempts from three-point range, misfiring on several wide-open shots. Hobbs said he encouraged Collucci to keep shooting after an 0-for-7 first half, but Collucci looked increasingly tentative as the game went on and finished with only five points.
Energized by a crowd of 3,118, the Colonials made several attempts to cut Temple’s lead, but nearly every time the Owls responded with a crowd-silencing three-pointer. Temple ended the game 13 for 37 from long range.
Hobbs was clearly frustrated after many Temple connections from beyond the arc. At one point he pounded the scorer’s table loudly and repeatedly, but he did not voice disappointment in his team’s defense.
“Because we couldn’t match up with them man-to-man physically, we had to play a lot of zones and keep changing defenses,” he said. “And they made some very good shots, many of which were contested and that was the difference.”
Long-range shots were a key factor offensively for both teams. GW was five for 27 from behind the arc, including a 0-for-13 first half, while giving up a season-high 13 three-point field goals to Temple.
After falling behind by as many as 27 with 13 minutes remaining in the game, Monroe led the Colonials back to within 12 at the five-minute mark. But that was as close as the game would get, as the Owls finished the last five minutes with a 16-6 run.
The woes began early for GW, as it went nearly five minutes without a field goal during the first seven minutes and another seven minutes without scoring during the final 10 minutes of the half.
By halftime, the Colonials made only five field goals and trailed 33-15. Only Temple’s 34 percent first-half shooting kept the Colonials within the realm of contention.
Temple coach John Chaney said he was happy with his team’s defensive effort, which was particularly successful in the first half.
“GW is a team that likes to play fast, and when you play a team like that you try to make them go faster,” he said. “So by running out at every shooter, it forced them to drive, and when you’re driving fast sometimes you get a little blinded.”
But Hobbs said his team’s first-half offensive performance was simply a matter of making shots.
“If you look at the shots we got, they were open shots and they didn’t go down” he said.
When asked about the effect of Temple’s defense, Hobbs said, “I don’t think the match-up affected us a whole lot.” He added: “I just thought we missed a lot of open looks and had a few too many turnovers.”
Playing against a front-court of two centers that weigh more than 250 pounds each, GW was only out-rebounded 45-43, mainly due to the efforts of Monroe and Jaason Smith.
Smith was able to hold his own against the bigger opponents, mainly Kevin Lyde and Ron Rollerson, grabbing eight rebounds to go along with his two blocks. More importantly, Smith held Lyde and Rollerson to a combined seven rebounds as the two sat in foul trouble for much of the game.
After the game, Smith said he enjoyed the match-up against Temple’s big men.
“I knew I couldn’t outmuscle them, but that didn’t mean I was going to back down from them,” he said. “I just tried to use my quickness to get around them.”
It will likely be more difficult for the Colonials to end the losing streak in their next game when they travel to Xavier for a Valentine’s Day match-up against David West, Romain Sato and the rest of the Musketeers.
Xavier owned the nation’s longest winning streak of 12 games heading into Saturday night before losing to St. Bonaventure. The Muskateers defeated GW earlier in the season with a 71-63 win at the Smith Center Jan. 17.