CINCINNATI -- Temple's famously stingy defense got back to what it does best -- breaking down opponents and creating havoc in tournament brackets.
The Owls' inscrutable zone left George Washington's high-powered offense in a shambles Thursday, setting up a 68-53 victory over the sixth-ranked Colonials in the A-10 Tournament quarterfinals.
The upset will have a far-reaching effect. Now, the Atlantic 10 will get two teams in the NCAA Tournament. And, someone from another conference will be left out.
The Colonials (26-2) never figured they'd be done so soon.
George Washington was only the fourth team to make it through the A-10 regular season without a loss. The unblemished record ended against a team known for making opponents look bad at tournament time.
Coach John Chaney had his Owls sometimes switch from their famed matchup zone to other variations -- a 2-1-2, a 3-2 -- to prevent the Colonials' fastbreak from getting any traction.
"Temple played a fantastic game," George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. "The elder statesman showed that he still knows how to get a team up and prepared to win a basketball game."
The plan was vintage Chaney: Make GW play at a numbingly deliberate pace.
"They had to pass the ball," Chaney said. "That's not good for athletes. Athletes just want to fly."
The Colonials came into the game as the only one-loss team in Division I, riding an 18-game winning streak. Against Temple, those lofty numbers became a burden. And loss No. 2 could well cost them a high NCAA seeding.
"But it's not the end of our season," said Mike Hall, who had 12 points but was 0-for-3 from behind the arc. "The teams we play in the tournament will be as tough if not tougher, and we've got to be better prepared."
The upset opened the way for the Atlantic 10 to get a second team in the NCAA Tournament, soaking up one of the 34 at-large bids for the 65-team field. George Washington was the only A-10 team to make it last season, and was expected to go it alone again.
Temple will play Saint Joseph's in the semifinals on Friday. The teams split their season series, with Temple winning 57-44 at home on Feb. 14.
The last team to run the table during the A-10 regular season also got its comeuppance at tournament time. Two years ago, Saint Joseph's was 27-0 and ranked No. 1 heading into the tournament, only to get drubbed by Xavier in its opening game at Dayton.
Midway through the first half Thursday, the Owls (17-13) gave hints that they were up to an upset as well, digging in and preventing George Washington from scoring for over nine minutes.
The Owls lost their last three games in the regular season, but have turned it on at tournament time.
"We always tend to play up to the level of our competition and play down to the level of our competition," said Wayne Marshall, who had 15 points.
Once they got up, the Owls never let up on defense, holding the conference's top offense to 33 percent shooting from the field while forcing 19 turnovers.
It was another notable moment Chaney, who missed last year's A-10 Tournament under a self-imposed suspension. Chaney was making amends for sending Nehemiah Ingram into a game against Saint Joseph's to purposely foul. One of the hard fouls broke the arm of Saint Joseph's John Bryant.
Antywane Robinson led Temple with 19 points, and Marshall and Mark Tyndale added 15 apiece. Carl Elliott led the Colonials with 18 points.
George Washington has a balanced attack that averaged 80 points. The Colonials led the A-10 in scoring and shooting percentage, and beat Temple by 12 points on Jan. 4 in their only matchup this season.
The Colonials looked confident as they went up 23-18 on Elliott's 3-pointer with 7:58 left in the first half. They didn't score again for the rest of the half, falling behind 31-23 as the Owls' zone engulfed their offense.
Temple's big-body front line kept George Washington from driving, and the Owls' aggressive guards disrupted the Colonials' passing. Hobbs repeatedly called timeouts to try to straighten things out -- nothing worked.
George Washington hadn't struggled so badly since its only loss of the season, 79-58 to North Carolina State on Dec. 30.
Temple pushed the lead to 13 before Elliott's two free throws early in the second half ended George Washington's 9:30 scoring drought. The Colonials never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
|George Washington coach Karl Hobbs and his bench are stunned after the loss. (AP)|
|George Washington #6||23||30||53|
|A. Robinson, F||40||7-18||2-3||6||2||1||19|
|W. Marshall, C||22||5-10||5-8||5||0||3||15|
|D. Salisbery, G||26||1-4||2-4||3||3||2||5|
|M. Tyndale, G||40||5-11||3-9||13||3||1||15|
|M. Collins, G||40||2-8||1-2||4||4||3||5|
|D. Dacons, F||15||1-2||4-5||3||1||2||6|
|C. Clark, G||3||0-1||1-2||0||0||1||1|
|D. Christmas, G/F||3||0-1||0-0||0||1||1||0|
|N. Ingram, F||10||1-1||0-0||2||0||2||2|
|.393||.545||Team Reb: 1|
|George Washington Colonials|
|O. Williams, F||29||2-6||2-7||7||3||5||6|
|M. Hall, F||35||2-10||1-2||12||1||2||5|
|A. Kireev, F||9||0-1||0-0||1||0||3||0|
|D. Pinnock, G||38||7-14||0-2||5||1||4||16|
|C. Elliott, G||37||6-16||4-5||5||4||2||18|
|R. Diggs, F||6||1-1||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|R. Koundjia, F||12||0-3||0-0||10||2||5||0|
|N. Wilmore, G||8||0-3||0-0||1||0||0||0|
|M. Rice, G||26||2-8||0-0||4||1||4||6|
|.323||.438||Team Reb: 3|