Losing respectably to Temple is becoming an increasingly unwelcome habit to the George Washington Colonials.

Three times last season, they played well against the Atlantic 10 champion, and three times they lost -- by an average margin of just fewer than eight points.

Last night, before a season-best crowd of 4,824 at Smith Center, the Colonials again played well against Temple. However, after leading by as many as 10 points in the first half and by four at halftime, GW was blitzed at the beginning of the second half and went on to lose, 79-66, to the sixth-ranked Owls.

"It's getting frustrating," GW senior guard Joe Dooley said, "very frustrating."

Sparked by three-point goals from senior guard Gerald Jackson and freshman forward Glen Sitney, the Colonials (7-5 overall, 1-2 in the Atlantic 10) broke away from a 13-13 tie midway through the first half by scoring 10 straight points.

During that stretch, Temple, which entered the game averaging less than 10 turnovers, turned over the ball twice in four possessions. The first of those miscues, a charge by freshman guard Mark Macon -- his third personal foul -- forced the Owls to play without their leading scorer for the half's final 9:43.

However, with forward Tim Perry and center Ramon Rivas scoring 17 of its final 19 points of the half, Temple whittled its way back into contention and trailed by just 36-32 at halftime.

During the first 4:20 of the second half, the Owls (10-0, 5-0) took command.

While GW was missing its first five field goal attempts, Macon -- back in the lineup -- made two threepoint field goals and Perry made two shots from the lane. Suddenly, the Colonials trailed by 42-36.

After GW's Max Blank hit a 10-foot turnaround jumper with 16:27 to play, Macon converted a three-point play after being fouled on a layup by Blank and then made another three-point field goal. Now the score was 48-38, and the Colonials were in big trouble.

They got to within 50-44 on Jackson's jumper with 13:05 to play, but the Owls answered with a 9-2 spurt and led, 59-46, with 10:17 left.

Four straight points by GW cut the margin to nine, but that is as close as the Colonials were able to get.

Macon ended the game with 22 points on eight-of-11 field goal shooting; Perry had 24 points on 10-of-12 field goal shooting, and added seven rebounds and three blocked shots.

GW got 16 points apiece from Jackson and Ellis McKennie; 12 from Sitney and 10 each from Mike Jones, who had a game-high 11 rebounds, and Dooley.

"We reacted to every situation in the first half," said George Washington Coach John Kuester, whose team shot 31.3 percent from the field in the second half. "We didn't do that in the second half. They're a good basketball team, but, hey, we're a good basketball team, too. But we have to play 40 minutes. We got ourselves in a hole at the beginning of the second half and it's tough to dig yourself out against these guys."

"Can we beat that team?" Dooley said. "Yeah, we can beat that team. I think we match up well with them and we always play them tough."

Last season, the scores were 77-73, 88-77, and 77-69.

"They're a great team," Dooley added, "but they can be beaten. I mean the Lakers and the Celtics are great teams and they lose 30 games a year."

That was of little comfort to the Colonials last night.

"If you can win a half," senior forward Kenny Barer said, "you can win a game. We just stopped doing the things that were working for us in the first half. We stopped penetrating and we stopped playing that tough defense.

"In the first half, we were making the shots that we were missing at the beginning of the second half. And when that happens, you have to penetrate a little harder and dig down on defense a little deeper. We didn't do that."

Temple's rally wasn't all the Colonials' doing, or lack thereof. At halftime, Temple's fiery coach John Chaney let loose. Then he made an important adjustment.

"I couldn't mention it to you; there were some things I said," Chaney said when asked what he told his team in the locker room. "We were just standing around watching the game, hoping GW would give the game to us."

"They were splitting us and spreading us {while Temple was playing a 1-2-2 zone}," Chaney said. "We switched to a 2-3."

Then, of course, there was Macon.

"He has lifted us up another notch as a team," Chaney said.

And up to another win over George Washington.

Virginia St. 95, Bowie St. 69:

Leonard Harris had 24 points, 14 rebounds to lead the winners (10-3, 5-2) to a CIAA victory at Bowie State's James Gymnasium. Sophomore guard Mike Sinclair led the Bulldogs (2-10, 2-6) with 30 points. Brian Price added 13 points and nine rebounds for Bowie State.

The Trojans outrebounded Bowie State, 44-19.