Facing a two-point second-half deficit and an unusually boisterous Smith Center crowd last night, Temple nevertheless maintained its poise. The result was a familiar one, a 17th straight victory over George Washington, 70-61.
Trailing by 54-52 with seven minutes left, the Owls switched from a zone defense to man-to-man pressure, outscored the Colonials by 16-1 and rolled to their fifth win in a row. The man who turned things around was Donald Hodge, the 7-footer from Coolidge High who struggled much of the night.
Hodge put Temple (9-3, 4-0 in the Atlantic 10) ahead to stay on a three-point play -- soft layup plus foul -- and followed it with two free throws in a one-and-one situation for a 57-54 lead. After Ellis McKennie sank a free throw for GW, the Owls reeled off 11 points in a row.
A goaltending call against Glen Sitney started the decisive run, followed by Vic Carstarphen's three-pointer, a spinning jumper by reserve James Spears, two free throws by Mark Macon and two more by Spears.
"It's always tough to win down here," said Hodge, a 16-point man whose 13 rebounds led both teams. "They were collapsing on me, but I'm getting used to that and I kick the ball out to the guards. The shot that put us ahead, I caught them cheating and took it in. I really wanted to perform well, because my dad came to the game and I haven't seen him for a long time."
If the Colonials (7-5, 2-3) had a chance to spring an upset, they hardly were deserving of one. For the first time in at least 22 years, not one GW player was able to achieve double figures and the team's shooting percentage was a miserable 33.9 percent.
"At times our shot selection was very good and at times it wasn't," said GW Coach Mike Jarvis. "But the big problem was the good shots we had that we didn't make."
The Colonials missed their first seven shots and had made only three of 14 when Jarvis suddenly replaced his entire starting unit. With J.J. Hudock and Rodney Patterson sinking two three-pointers each, GW cut a 17-7 deficit to 27-26.
"I did that out of sheer desperation," Jarvis said. "Ideally, you like to substitute one or two guys, but it was time to do something out of the ordinary. I didn't want to let the game slip away. Luckily it worked, but it won't work very often."
GW stayed in contention with a solid job of offensive rebounding. The Colonials grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the first half, 13 for the game. But they never did find their shooting eye and went more than eight minutes without a field goal down the stretch.
Macon led all scorers with 19 points and Carstarphen had 17, including four of five from three-point range. The Owls were helped by making 17 of 20 free throws.