Not only did George Washington lose its second Atlantic 10 basketball game in three days at the Palestra tonight, 62-55 to Temple, but the Colonials now face the possibility of being without leading scorer Mike Brown.
Temple, which shot only 39 percent from the field, made 21 of 25 free throws in the second half tonight to win its 10th straight overall and 26th consecutive league game. It has won four of its last five meetings with the Colonials.
George Washington shot 38 percent from the floor and found three-point shots are a difficult thing on which to rely. The Colonials (7-5, 2-2 in the league) made only six of 18 shots from beyond the 19-foot circle.
George Washington, however, had little choice but to fire the ball up from the outside. Temple's compact 2-1-2 zone defense took the inside game away from 6-foot-10 center Brown, and his aggravating toe injury left him with little mobility.
Brown has not practiced in the past two weeks because of the sprained toe but has played in games. He said tonight he has to try another avenue to let his toe heal.
"It is really hurting me," he said after scoring 12 points and taking eight rebounds. "I can't run and I can't jump. I'm going to have to sit out a game or two because it just isn't getting better with me playing on it."
Colonials Coach Gerry Gimelstob, who thought his team played well tonight in defeat, said he would talk to Brown to decide what would be best. George Washington does not play again until Thursday, when it plays host to Penn State in a league game.
Temple, which improved to 10-2 overall and 4-0 in the league, broke the game open in a 1:34 stretch midway in the second half when it briefly went into a 1-3-1 trapping defense.
After Joe Wassel, who led George Washington with 13 points, made a three-point field goal to give the Colonials a 39-38 lead with 10:20 remaining, Temple switched defenses. A steal by sophomore Nate Blackwell ended up with Granger Hall stuffing for a 40-39 Temple lead.
The Owls forced two more consecutive turnovers, with Howard Evans (13 points) making a three-point play for a 45-39 lead. The Colonials finally got a shot off, but Temple took the rebound and Evans passed to Hall for a 47-39 lead with 7:34 left.
"We played well against a team which should be in the top 10 or 20," said Gimelstob. "There was that stretch we lost the ball a couple of times against that 1-3-1 trap and that was the ballgame."
George Washington came within two, 51-49, after Wassel made his fourth three-pointer of the evening with 2:30 left, but never came closer.
Temple made nine of 11 free throws the rest of the way, including four by Evans.
George Washington came out shooting three-pointers. Its first shot of the game, by Mike O'Reilly, appeared to be a three-pointer, but he was given credit for only two points and Gimelstob became enraged less than one minute after the opening tap.
The Colonials had been using the three-point shot successfully in other league games. They had made 20 of 39 three-pointers (51 percent) before tonight. Wassel had made 12 of 25 (48 percent), including five of nine in a 65-51 loss to St. Bonaventure Thursday.
Temple Coach John Chaney said he was concerned about Wassel's range, but he elected to stay in the tight zone much of the game.
"Our plan was to try and get out there on him, but there was a limit to how far anyone could go," he said.
With 8:32 left in the first half, Hall, who came into the game averaging 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds, went to the bench with three personal fouls. George Washington led at the time, 15-13.
The Colonials failed to take advantage of the situation and could not get the ball inside to Brown. Without Hall, Temple ended up with a 27-23 halftime lead. He scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, tying teammate Ed Coe for game scoring honors.
"They (the Colonials) saw we had a weaker squad at that point, but they started hurrying the ball," said Chaney. "In the end, I think it hurt them to have him out instead of helped them."