PHILADELPHIA, FEB. 14 -- The steam went out of George Washington's train just about the time one of the referees told the Colonials' cheerleaders to move back farther off the court seven seconds into today's game with top-ranked Temple.
It's already close quarters in cramped McGonigle Hall, and the poor cheerleaders never had a chance. Neither did the Colonials, who were overrun by the Owls, 92-67, in front of a sellout crowd of 4,500.
The Owls (20-1, 13-0 in the Atlantic 10) shot 62.5 percent from the floor in the first half, including five of nine three-pointers, en route to a 51-27 lead. The 51 points were the most given up by George Washington in a first half this season.
"Today," said Colonials forward Ellis McKennie (team-high 20 points), "they were on top of their game. I don't think anybody in the country could have beaten them today. We wanted to establish our inside game. That never came off much."
George Washington (10-12, 4-9 in the Atlantic 10) didn't help itself by shooting 37 percent from the floor in the first half and going through two four-minute stretches without scoring. During those two periods, the Owls stretched an 8-5 lead to 20-7 and pushed a 32-20 advantage to 43-22.
Temple's outstanding back court of freshman Mark Macon and senior Howard Evans combined for 40 points, Macon getting a game-high 23. They, along with forward Tim Perry (12 points) took all the excitement out of today's game early.
Perry scored all of his points in the opening half, camping out in the low post and muscling any Colonials players who guarded him. When Perry wasn't dominating play inside, Macon and Evans were stripping the Colonials' back court for transition scores.
In other words, the Owls weren't flat after their emotional victory over Villanova Wednesday. And they seemed to be taking the pressure that comes with being No. 1 and wearing it well.
"When a guy gets rich," Temple Coach John Chaney said, "he feels like he can spend a little more money. But the guys who stay rich are the guys who stay stingy."
Temple led, 13-5, when Macon scored seven straight points, the last three on a three-pointer with 12:09 left in the half. Guard Joe Dooley broke the Colonials' drought with a jumper, but Perry had a dunk and Evans nailed another three-pointer, making it 25-9.
The Colonials got as close as 26-16 on a basket by McKennie, and had a chance to cut the lead to eight when Perry traveled. But Macon then stole the ball and found Mike Vreeswyk (13 points), who swished another three-pointer as Temple made an opponent-high eight against the Colonials this season.
Kenny Barer hit two free throws for George Washington, but Temple then went on a 22-9 run to close out the half. Evans committed the final indignity when he hit a 27-foot three-pointer to end the half. This came after he casually was dribbling near midcourt, and noticed that the game clock had gone down to about four seconds.
Temple, Chaney said, is not thinking anymore about the opponent, but on playing well going into the NCAA tournament. And because his young players are going to determine how far the Owls will go, he still is nervous.
"I don't trust 'em," he said. "They're kids, and I don't trust 'em. I just try to stay on top of them and let them out once in a while."