WASHINGTON D.C. – Trailing George Washington by three points with less than a minute left, Temple senior Fatima Maddox squared up near the top of the key and left the ground to take a crucial jumper.
At the last second, Maddox spotted junior Lady Comfort open underneath the basket and dished the ball in her direction.
With no one near her, Comfort caught the ball and went up for the layup.
The shot rolled off the rim.
Missed opportunities plagued the Owls during their 56-53 loss to George Washington, the No. 9-ranked team in the nation, Sunday at the Charles E. Smith Athletic Center.
“This definitely hurts,” Maddox said. “[But] I’m still encouraged and I’m very proud of our team.”
Both teams entered the contest, the final game of the regular season, with spotless Atlantic Ten Conference records.
With the loss, the Owls (23-6 overall) fell to 13-1 in the A-10. Temple will enter the A-10 tournament as a No. 2 seed and will play the winner of the Massachusetts (17-12, 7-7) versus St. Bonaventure (15-14, 5-9) game on Saturday at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Junior Sarah-Jo Lawrence scored 19 points on 9-of-17 shooting to lead the Colonials (25-2, 14-0). She scored the first 11 points of the game for George Washington.
Fatima Maddox led the Owls with 17 points and Kamesha Hairston scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for her 11th double-double.
The Owls missed a bunch of layups against the Colonials and wound up shooting 35 percent for the game. Temple couldn’t convert free throws when it counted either, hitting only 7-of-15 from the foul line in the second half.
“You have to put the ball in the hole when you need to put the ball in the hole,” coach Dawn Staley said. “We didn’t do that, but we had ample opportunities.”
The Owls trailed the Colonials for the entire second half when Fatima Maddox nailed a three-pointer from the left corner to tie the game at 50-50 with 3:11 left.
Senior Kenan Cole hit a jumper at the 2:46 mark to give the Colonials a 52-50 lead. Almost a minute later, sophomore Jessica Adair hit 1-of-2 free throws to put George Washington up by three points.
After Comfort’s botched layup attempt, junior Kimberly Beck spun into the lane and hit a jumper over Maddox to give the Colonials a 55-50 lead with 25 seconds left.
“The shot clock was running down and I knew I had to get the ball up,” Beck said. “She cut me off, so I spun back and shot it and it went in.”
The Owls trailed, 56-53, after senior Kamesha Hairston hit a three-pointer with six seconds remaining.
Beck then missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt with four seconds left to give the Owls a chance to send the game into overtime. But Hairston’s last second three-point attempt from the left elbow barely reached the rim.
“I felt like I rushed it a little bit,” Hairston said. “I think I had more time than I thought I had.”
The Owls won the battle of the boards, outrebounding George Washington 48-27, but squandered many scoring opportunities. Temple committed 15 of its 19 turnovers in the first half.
Despite the turnovers, the poor shooting percentage and the missed free throw attempts, the Owls feel confident going into the A-10 tournament next week, Maddox said.
“We just need to take our time a little bit more,” Maddox said. “And make those little chippies.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.