GW Blows Double-Digit Lead in Home Loss to Temple
Men’s Basketball Writer
WASHINGTON – GW got off to a flying start on Wednesday night at the Charles E. Smith Center. However, it would be visiting Temple who would leave Foggy Bottom with a win as the Owls erased a double-digit halftime deficit en route to a 55-53 victory.
It seems like, with the exception of a couple of changes, that story was written a year ago after these two teams matched up.
Last season, the Colonials held a 12 point lead over Temple at halftime at the Liacouras Center, only to see that lead vanish amidst a second half Owls rally spurred on by the play of guard Khalif Wyatt, who scored 22 points in the win a little over eleven months ago.
Wednesday night was a repeat performance of what happened on that chilly February night in north Philadelphia, as GW held a 28-18 lead at halftime only to see Wyatt rebound from a poor first half in which he shot just 1-7 from the field to score 18 points and carry Temple to the comeback win.
GW was led by forward Isaiah Armwood, who was the only Colonial in double figures with 13 points and nine rebounds. Seniors Dwayne Smith and Bryan Bynes were next in scoring with nine points each while freshman Patricio Garino posted another high volume shooting night, but only came away with eight points.
In the first half, everything seemed to be going the Colonials’ way. Isaiah Armwood was back to his normal self after a less-than-stellar performance against Xavier on Saturday. Furthermore, GW’s defense was stifling Temple’s offensive attack, holding them to just 32 percent shooting in the first half. The theory that GW rises to the occasion against tough opponents on their home floor seemed to be coming to fruition once again.
Then, the roller coaster second half began. Temple started the half on an 11-3 run, making the statement that if they were to lose, they were going to make the Colonials earn every inch of the win. It would become an extremely back-and-forth half, with Temple chipping away at the lead only to see GW go on a quick run to rebuild their cushion at around five to seven points. For example, Temple fought all the way back to tie the game at 37 with 13:54 to go, only to see the Colonials go on a 16-8 run over the next six minutes to push the lead back up to eight with seven minutes to play. The next time the Owls would get as close as they did with a little under 14 minutes to play would be at the 2:03 mark, when Temple took the lead for good with a pair of Khalif Wyatt free throws.
The next two minutes for GW can really only be described as déjà vu all over again. The Colonials had three chances to tie or take the lead in that final 2:03, only to squander each and every one of those opportunities. The first two chances came consecutively, as Nemanja Mikic first missed a three pointer only to have the Colonials corral the offensive rebound and get it out to Dwayne Smith, who also missed an open three. After Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson made one of two free throws, the Colonials had one more chance to tie or win the game, but Bryan Bynes missed a runner in the paint and Smith could not convert on the put-back lay-up attempt, sealing another heartbreaking loss for a team that is all too familiar with these kinds of defeats.
The fact that the Colonials have become synonymous with close losses at the buzzer not just around campus, but around the entire conference, is extremely concerning for the program. For a number of reasons, ranging from poor play design to failed execution to the lack of a go-to closer in the final seconds, GW has now dropped their third game of this type this season and now drops to 1-4 in games decided by four points or less. It is a trend that seems to have carried over from last season, when the Colonials were frustratingly poor in end-of-game situations.
Granted, most fans will point to the fact that their play was erratic during the entire second half as the reason why they blew a double digit halftime lead and the fact is they should point to that. Any time a team has that type of lead on their home floor with 20 minutes to go, they should be able to hold the lead, no matter how good they are and especially if they want to be considered a top team in the conference.
But there is no escaping the fact that this loss signifies yet another example of a team that cannot make the big shot when they need it most, no matter how hard they try. For a team with so much potential, that stark truth is the biggest disappointment of all.
The Colonials (7-9, 1-2 Atlantic 10) will now try to bounce back against Massachusetts in Amherst on Saturday afternoon. That game tips off at 4 p.m. and you can listen to all the action on WRGW Sports-Colonials Radio Central at gwradio.com.