Late in the Atlantic 10 Tournament final Monday evening, the GW women’s basketball team looked ready to pull off an upset of Temple. After a 19-7 run slashed a 17-point Owls lead, the Colonials trailed 56-52 with less than three minutes left in the game.
However, A-10 Player of the Year Candice Dupree came to Temple’s rescue, nailing a step-back jumper and a pair of free throws on consecutive possessions to put Temple up eight with less than two minutes left, essentially giving her team the championship.
Temple hit its free throws late, and defeated the Colonials 70-62 in front of 2,319 fans at the Smith Center.
“You can’t spot them a lead and then try to make it up it because it just takes so much energy,” GW head coach Joe McKeown said. “Tonight it just felt like we were climbing the entire game. It just took so much energy. They’ve got a lot of ways to beat you, if you shut one down another one steps up, they really feed off of that.”
Dupree was later named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“We always had a hand up but we couldn’t really defend that shot without giving her a foul,” senior Jessica Simmonds said of Dupree’s performance. “We did what we could as a team.”
The No. 15 Owls (Associated Press) won all 19 of their A-10 games this season and are currently on a 24-game winning streak.
Temple (27-3) has won back-to-back A-10 Championships and received an automatic bid in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The Colonials’ post-season hopes now sit in the hands of the selection committee.
“I felt we were in (the NCAAs) going into the (A-10) tournament,” McKeown said. “I think we have taken care of our own business, the only thing we didn’t do was finish it off tonight. I think we are as competitive as any team that’s out there. I am just concerned about where they are going to put us. I have been on that proverbial bubble before and slid off and it’s a long fall, and it hurts.”
Monta?ana finished the game with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. She was named to the all-tournament team and became the 13th player in program history to score 1,300 points in her career. She is just seven points away from tying GW’s other Spanish star, Elisa Aguilar’s career total.
“I think we fought through most of the second half but we just didn’t get it,” Monta?ana said. “I think my team gave 120 percent tonight. If we would have played better in the first half we could have won this game. We have a really, really young team and this is their first big final at home so I think they were tired.”
The game see-sawed back and forth early on, but the Colonials’ first-half shooting struggles left them six points behind, 28-22, at the break. GW shot 35 percent from the field during the first half.
Monta?ana turned out one of her best all-around performances in her final appearance at the Smith Center. Defenses have keyed on her throughout her career, a fact that is not lost on McKeown, who said she “gets double-teamed just crossing 22nd Street.”