WASHINGTON (AP) — Temple coach Fran Dunphy insisted he wasn’t worried.
Three days after their worst loss of the season to the top-ranked team in the nation, the Owls missed 16 of their first 18 shots and fell 12 points behind George Washington.
After the horrific first 10 minutes were over, No. 24 Temple stabilized and dominated the Colonials in the second half on the way to a 57-41 victory on Saturday.
After returning the favor by holding George Washington to just two points over the final 11:22, Dunphy could look back on Saturday’s game with satisfaction.
“I thought our defense in the second half was as good as we can play,” Dunphy said.
How good was it?
The Owls (22-6, 12-2 Atlantic 10) held the Colonials (15-13, 8-6) to 18.8 percent shooting from the field. Temple outscored George Washington 19-2 after the Colonials took a 39-38 lead.
“Everybody just kind of dug in,” Dunphy said.
Lavoy Allen had 19 points and a season-high 16 rebounds for the Owls, who have won nine of 10, while Khalif Wyatt had 14 points and Ramone Moore added 11.
On Wednesday, Temple lost by 17 points at No. 1 Duke. Then George Washington ran out to an early 12-point lead.
“I don’t think there was,” Dunphy said about a hangover effect. “I don’t think we were reeling by any stretch. We just kind of had to get our legs under us.”
Once that happened, Allen, their all-time leading rebounder, was simply marvelous, shooting 8 of 12 from the field and blocking three shots to complement his work on the boards.
“We had poor ball movement at the beginning,” Allen said. “Maybe we took them too lightly.”
Allen has had to do more because two of the Owls’ top players, forwards Micheal Eric and Scootie Randall, are both out with injuries. Eric has missed the last four games with a fractured right patella and won’t play again this season. Randall, their second-leading scorer and rebounder, missed the last three games with an injury to his right foot.
Randall’s return is expected, but no date has been set.
“Everybody’s got to do a little bit better,” Wyatt said. “We’re just growing as a team since they went down.”
Dwayne Smith had 12 points to lead the Colonials, who scored a season-low 41 points in having a three-game winning streak end.
George Washington coach Karl Hobbs is an admirer of both Temple and Allen.
“I think it was pretty obvious. Their defense really took things away from us,” Hobbs said. “That’s the best team that we’ve played.”
Before Saturday’s game, Hobbs talked at length to his team about Allen.
“He must be a pleasure to coach,” Hobbs said. “He controlled and dominated the game.”
While Hobbs admires Allen from afar, Dunphy gets to coach the 6-foot-9 senior — at least for a few more weeks.
“He’s always in the right place defensively,” Dunphy said. “It’s something we’re used to, but I think today was kind of an exceptional game for him.”
In their nightmarish beginning, the Owls shot just 2 of 18, and quickly fell behind 20-8.
They didn’t crack double figures until more than halfway through the first half. After George Washington took a 22-10 lead on Aaron Ware’s layup with 7:33 to play in the opening 20 minutes, Temple crawled back into the game. Allen scored 10 straight points for the Owls as they got within 26-23 at halftime.
It was somewhat remarkable that Temple trailed by just three at the half since they shot 24.2 percent.
After the Colonials’ Nemanja Mikic hit a 3-pointer to make it 29-23, the Owls scored 10 straight points — including a 3-pointer and layup by Allen to take a 33-29 lead with 16:47 left.
The Colonials haven’t beaten a ranked team at home since they defeated Xavier on Jan. 14, 1998.
Temple, which has won 23 of its last 27 games played at George Washington, trails league-leading Xavier by a half-game.
The 25th-ranked Musketeers play at Dayton on Sunday.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)