- Despite a strong second half, another slow start was too hard to overcome for Temple men's basketball in a 79-65 loss at SMU (13-3, 3-0) on Wednesday night. The Owls (9-7, 0-3) narrowed a one-time 21-point deficit to nine points in the final minutes, but could come no closer in their third straight loss to open American Athletic Conference play.
SMU caught fire down the stretch of the first half, hitting 12 of 19 shots after making just two of its first 11. The Mustangs' largest lead (21 points) came in the opening period, but they again led by 20 with 13 minutes left in the game before the Owls chipped away.
Shizz Alston, Jr.
and Quinton Rose
came up big in the second half with 13 points and 12 points, respectively, in helping the Owls get back in the game. Rose went 5-of-9 from the field (6-of-11 overall) with all five of those buckets coming on the fast break as he recorded a career-high five steals. His final layup put Temple within nine at 1:53, but the Owls could not connect on any of their final five attempts.
Tying for team-high scoring honors were Alston and Obi Enechionyia
with 16 points apiece, while Rose finished with 14. Enechionyia was back in form after struggling in recent games, tonight playing all 40 minutes and hitting 4-of-9 from long range. Damion Moore
came off the bench to lead Temple with a career-high seven rebounds, while Alani Moore II
led all players with six assists for the Owls.
Four players reached double figures for SMU, led by Semi Ojeleye with 19 points and nine rebounds.
Temple hit its first three shots of the first half and jumped out to an 8-2 lead as the Mustangs struggled at the start. Enenchionyia's second trey put the Owls up 11-6 at 13:40 of the first half, but it was all SMU from there.
The Owls went cold as SMU used runs of 11-0 and 13-0 to show their dominance the rest of the way. The Mustangs' second big run of the first half included three consecutive shots from behind the arc. Temple made just three field goals in the final nine minutes, missing seven in a row before hitting its final two shots in the period.
SMU had matched its largest lead of 21 points with 23 seconds remaining, but Enechionyia drained his third three-pointer of the half in the final seconds to make it an 18-point game at the break, 40-22.
The Owls turned things around early in the second half, making four three-pointers in a 14-7 opening run that cut SMU's lead to 11, 47-36 at 16:39.
Foul trouble on Temple and solid free-throw shooting for SMU helped the Mustangs go back up by 20 points at the 13-minute mark, but it would be their largest lead the rest of the way. The Owls put together bursts of offense on a couple occasions that kept them within striking distance, and they came within 10 three times before finally getting the margin to single digits in the final minutes.
After Rose made it a nine-point game, three Mustangs in a row made just one of two free throws, but Temple missed its final five attempts from the field to end its comeback hopes.
The Owls will return home for their next game, a noon contest against East Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 7 (TCN / 1210 AM WPHT).