The last time the men’s basketball team faced George Washington, the Owls were never really in the game. Just seven minutes into the teams’ regular season meeting in February, the Colonials led by nine points and withstood a few Owls scoring runs to claim a 16-point victory.
The Owls stayed closer early on in the Atlantic Ten Conference semifinals last night, but the result was essentially the same. Though the Owls trailed by just one point at halftime, the Colonials surged in the second half and came away with a 77-58 victory. The Colonials will face Saint Joseph’s in the A-10 Championship game.
With the loss, the Owls (16-13) were eliminated from the conference tournament and forfeited any possibility of playing in the NCAA Tournament. They appear headed for the second-tier National Invitational Tournament for the fourth straight year.
“It’s just frustrating,” junior guard Mardy Collins said. “It’s something we work on all summer and all season long, to get to the [NCAA] Tournament, and when we don’t get there it’s definitely frustrating.”
Collins, the team’s co-captain and all-America candidate, had another poor offensive game. He had as many turnovers as he had points, with six of each. He shot 0-for-8 from three-point range and 3-for-14 overall. Against Dayton on Thursday, Collins shot just 4-for-18 from the field.
The Owls got 20 points from freshman Mark Tyndale, but GW won with balanced scoring. Four Colonials scored in double figures, and sophomore guard J.R. Pinnock led the team with 16 points.
Acting Temple coach Dan Leibovitz, filling in during John Chaney’s self-imposed suspension, fell to 3-2 as a head coach. Chaney is expected to resume coaching the team in the NIT.
“I don’t know any team that wants to go [to the NCAAs] more than we do,” Leibovitz said. “We have a senior [Wilbur Allen] who’s never gotten to go there and a 73-year-old coach who deserves to be there.”
The Colonials (21-7) succeeded in their usual goal of forcing turnovers and scoring points in transition. They scored 21 points off 19 Owls turnovers.
Collins and the Owls continued to be confounded by GW coach Karl Hobbs’ constantly changing defenses. Before this season, the Owls were 7-1 in their last eight meetings with GW. They have now lost two straight in the series and committed 30 combined turnovers in those games.
Guard T.J. Thompson, who leads the Colonials into the A-10 Championship game as the team’s sole senior, credited the win to the players’ execution.
“Our game plan was to speed things up,” Thompson said. “Temple typically plays a slow pace, so we tried to speed them up and make them play at our pace.”
Tyndale played well in his brief first trip to the A-10 tourney. In two games, he averaged 17.5 points, 10 rebounds and two assists.
“Not a lot of positives [against GW],” Collins said. “We got a good game from Mark, but that’s about it.”
Senior forward Nehemiah Ingram withstood a few fans’ taunts in both playoff games. Ingram, who gained notoriety when Chaney indirectly called him a “goon” after a game against Saint Joseph’s, played better than any of the other Owls’ frontcourt players last night.
Ingram scored four points and grabbed seven rebounds in just seven minutes of play. Though the Milledgeville, Ga., native struggled with his grades early in his college career, he will graduate on time this spring and earn another year of eligibility in the fall.
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.