PHILADELPHIA – The saying goes “two out of three ain’t bad,” but for the women’s basketball team, it was the third that mattered the most.
After defeating No. 18 Temple twice this season, the Colonials fell to the Owls 59-54 in the Atlantic 10 Conference championship game Monday night.
Sophomore Kim Beck thought her team laid it all on the line.
“I think we did everything we could to win,” Beck said after the game in Alumni Fieldhouse. “It just didn’t happen. It is hard to beat people three times in one season. We did everything we had to do. It just didn’t happen for us tonight.”
The Colonials (22-8) got off to a strong start, keeping the Owls scoreless for the first five minutes of the game, but found themselves in foul trouble late in the contest.
Senior Jessica Simmonds fouled out with 2:17 remaining. All five of her fouls, two of which were technicals, came in the second half, something that raised a red flag for Coach Joe McKeown.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” McKeown said. “I don’t know if that was fair. It certainly had an impact on the game.”
McKeown said he was impressed with the Owls’ performance.
“Temple played well,” McKeown said. “They made big plays when they had to and that was the difference in the last four minutes. Anything could have happened. They just made plays when they had to and we didn’t.”
Temple senior Candice Dupree, who was named player of the tournament, ended the game with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Kamesha Hairston added 18 points for the Owls, who captured their third straight A-10 title. They also beat the Colonials in last year’s tournament final.
“I think we did a great job on (Dupree) in the first half,” McKeown said. “Defensively, I thought we did a great job in the first half. She just got loose. She’s a great player, and that’s what great players do. They take games over in the second half, and that’s what happened.”
Both Beck and sophomore Sarah-Jo Lawrence, who scored 14 points in each of the Colonials’ first two games, were named to the all-tournament team. Despite finishing the final with eight points, Lawrence refused to use fatigue as an excuse for her decline in scoring or the team’s loss.
“In a championship game you can’t say that you’re tired,” she said Monday night. “You have to come out and play regardless of what’s happened before.”
While Temple earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins March 18, the Colonials must now wait to see what additional postseason play awaits them. They are expected to snag a spot in the tournament. NCAA pairings will be announced Sunday. The Colonials made it to the second round of last year’s tournament.
Regardless of whom the squad faces, history shows that GW will come out strong. GW beat Richmond and Saint Joseph’s to make it to the tournament final.
“If you look at our past record, we haven’t lost this season coming off a loss,” Lawrence said. “It’s pretty hard to beat us after a loss.”
“Coach McKeown always says, ‘It’s always bad to play GW after a loss,'” Beck added. “We’re ready to play, whoever’s next, it doesn’t matter. We’ll be ready.”