Posted Thursday, March 9, 2:08 p.m.
Updated 3:14 p.m.
CINCINNATI – It was an awkward scene for GW. No roaring dunks from senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who was relegated to the bench with a recovering injured knee. The recently clutch sophomore Maureece Rice could not find his game.
Thursday, there was none of this season’s magic in the Buckeye State.
Much like Saint Joseph’s of two years ago, the undefeated-in-conference Colonials lost in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, 68-53, to Temple. The loss drops GW to 26-2 overall and gives the A-10 a guaranteed two bids in the NCAA Tournament. The 2003-2004 Saint Joseph’s team lost to Xavier in the A-10 Tournament final but went on to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Senior Mike Hall admitted that the loss of Mensah-Bonsu, which weakened GW’s inside game, was detrimental, but he did not concede that it cost them the game.
“It’s not that big of a disappointment,” Hall said of losing in the quarterfinals of the A-10 Tournament. “We looked at it as two separate seasons. (The regular season’s) in the books – no one can take it away from us. Temple played extremely well. Someone had to win and someone had to lose.”
GW head coach Karl Hobbs did not accept excuses.
“We will never surrender to excuses,” Hobbs said of Mensah-Bonsu’s absence. “Yes he is special. That still doesn’t excuse the fact we had 19 turnovers and didn’t finish off plays.”
The 53 points is GW’s lowest of the year and was accomplished on 32.3 percent shooting from the floor and 43.8 percent on the line.
The Owls (17-13) shot 39.3 percent and got 19 points from Antywane Robinson and 15 each from Wayne Marshall and Mark Tyndale.
Temple, whom GW beat 72-60 on Jan. 4, used a stifling zone defense to cause 19 turnovers and force the Colonials into their half-court set.
This GW squad did not have the normal five players in double figures Thursday.
The offense GW was forced to play did not produce nearly close to their normal average of nearly 80 points per game. Junior Carl Elliott put in 18 points and classmate Danilo (J.R.) Pinnock scored 16 and pulled down five rebounds. Senior Omar Williams and sophomore Maureece Rice had six points each, while Hall only managed five. Sophomore Regis Koundjia got two points.
Going into the tournament last season, the Colonials sat at 18-7 and 10-5 in conference. That squad needed wins in Cincinnati to secure a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
This team did not. Hobbs said he did not feel that was an issue.
“No. I don’t sense that at all,” Hobbs said of a lack of necessity. “I thought we played extremely hard. Unfortunately, we didn’t take care of the ball or execute well against the zone.”
No. 6 GW is the highest-ranked opponent Temple has beaten since they upset No. 1 Cincinnati on Feb. 20, 2000.
The Colonials will have to wait until Sunday to find out their NCAA seeding. CBS’s Selection Sunday show is set to broadcast at 6 p.m.