WASHINGTON – There’s nothing surprising about Temple needing a late spark to defeat George Washington, 55-53, on Wednesday at Charles E. Smith Center.
The Owls also struggled before eventually defeating the Colonials in the teams’ previous two meetings.
“Really, I can’t pinpoint it,” Temple reserve guard T.J. DiLeo said of having a tough time against GW. “I think part of it is they play a lot of players. They are always real athletic. They really crash the glass and they are well coached.”
Two seasons ago, the game had all the signs of a lopsided loss for Temple.
The then 24th-ranked Owls were playing without swingman Scootie Randall for the third consecutive game. Temple also missed 21 of its first 25 field-goal attempts. And to make matters worse, George Washington held a 12-point lead more than halfway through the first half.
But that's when the Owls and their defense woke up.
Temple closed the gap before intermission and suffocated the Colonials in the second half en route to a 57-41 Atlantic Ten victory Saturday at the Smith Center.
Former Temple standout Lavoy Allen, now a second-year 76er, was the main reason the Owls won the game.
The 6-foot-9 power forward recorded his eighth double-double of that season by finishing with game highs of 19 points and 16 rebounds. The preseason all-American also finished with a game-high three blocked shots to go with two assists in 40 minutes of action.
Temple held George Washington to 18.8 percent shooting (6 of 32) after intermission.
Last season, the Colonials had a 10-point cushion with 5 minutes, 9 seconds left.
But that's when Khalif Wyatt took over.
The Norristown High graduate sparked a game-ending 22-5 run to lift the Owls to a 79-72 victory at the Liacouras Center.
Wyatt scored 14 of his 22 points during the decisive run. Those points were crucial, considering Juan Fernandez, a senior point guard at the time, left the game with a left-hip pointer with 6:38 left.
But Wyatt wasn't impressive in the first half, scoring six points on 1-for-4 shooting.
On Wednesday, the Owls made just 7 of 22 first-half shots. Their 18 points before intermission were the fewest they have scored in first half this season.
But they eventually took their first lead, 54-53, and the lead for good on Wyatt’s foul shots with 2:03 remaining.
The Owls’ latest close call against the Colonials enabled them to extend their series winning streak to six games.