PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 3 – In these 17 games, the GW men’s basketball team has precipitously fallen from conference champion to last place in its conference. And on Super Bowl Sunday, Temple was nearly the panacea for change that it has been in the past.
Two years ago, during GW’s historic run through its conference, the Owls were the Colonials’ first win only days after the it lost to North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C. Later that year, the Owls beat GW in its first game of the A-10 championship in Cincinnati – likely the reason that head coach Karl Hobbs’ top-10 team received an eight seed in the NCAA tournament.
For about three minutes on Sunday afternoon in downtown Philadelphia, Fran Dunphy’s Owls allowed GW to crawl back into a game they were poised to lose just minutes earlier. After a halftime deficit of 10, the Colonials connected on a barrage of three pointers and completed a few successful plays. Coupled with a slew offensive misses by Temple, the Colonials seemed to have hope they could snap their eight-game losing streak here.
“I think we were making shots and got defensive stops,” said Hobbs, the perpetual minimalist, after the game.
But hope turned to fantasy at Liacouras Center as Temple’s Mark Tyndale and Diante Christmas scored 21 points apiece and GW gave the ball up eight times in a 93-80 loss.
And with that, the Colonials continued its three-month crawl toward futility and downright insignificancy in a conference they – not too long ago – ruled. Reality, for this team this season, has been nothing but harsh.
GW, a three-year NCAA qualifier, is now the owner of a six-game, 24-day losing streak. Its 10-game road slump is now second only to the 1-27 GW team from 1989-1990, which lost 13 straight on the road and is largely considered the worst in the University’s history.
Sunday’s loss at Liacouras Center and St. Bonaventure’s win over Duquesne Saturday in Pittsburgh also establishes the Colonials – winners of two conference championships in three years – as the league’s worst team.
The Colonials now have four more chances to win away from Foggy Bottom this season. Their next road game is at St. Louis Feb. 13. They defeated the Billikens Jan. 10 at Smith Center.
Hobbs, whose University of Connecticut pedigree helped resurrect a program mired in scandal and mediocrity seven years ago, is now at the helm of a team with one senior and far-off hopes of the A-10 championship in Atlantic City in March. If Hobbs’ squad wins the rest of its games, it could end 15-11 and 11-5 in the conference. The coach – who got his third technical foul this season – said he “understands what he’s coaching.” When asked if he expected his team to be further along at this point, he said the “record speaks for itself.”
“For me, I’ve been here before,” Hobbs said. “I understand what needs to happen to this program to get to where it needs to be.”
But the players he had on the floor Sunday were nearly enough Sunday. The Colonials’ two Philadelphia natives combined for 40 points – senior Maureece Rice with 22 and junior Noel Wilmore with 18. GW’s morning shoot-around was at Chester High School, Wilmore’s alma mater, and the guard was 6-for-7 from behind the arc.
Yet Rice, who played his last collegiate game in the city where he is a hardwood legend, said the streak is frustrating considering his team’s prior success.
Rice said, “We’re going to try to get some more wins before this thing is over with.”