Temple basketball looked like they were poised for another top 25 upset early on in the Thursday night matchup against No. 21 Connecticut. That hope eventually faded away, due to issues that have haunted the Owls all season.
Can you expect to beat a top 25 team when you shoot under 34% for the game? Nope.
This one was right there for Temple, it really was, but they just could not capitalize on the opportunities given to them.
Defensively, the Owls played a pretty good game. They forced 16 turnovers and grabbed 34 rebounds against the Huskies strong offense. They also kept one of the best point guards in the country, Shabazz Napier, from completely taking over the game.
Napier did finish with a game high 17 points, but he was three for 11 from the field. Napier snagged most of his points from free throws.
Obviously defense, which has been a major issue this season, wasn’t an issue this time. It was scoring.
Quenton Decosey led Temple with 16 but he was five for 15 from the field, and that is too low of a percentage for a scorer like Decosey. Dalton Pepper has had scoring issues of late as well. With the exception of the upset over SMU, Pepper has shot above 30% once in his past 5 games. He was four for 18 in Thursday’s loss.
Fouls were another thing that hurt the Owls. Temple had 21 personal fouls, including two very early for Devontae Watson, causing him to sit most of the game. When a team gives a guy like Napier (an 88% free throw shooter) 11 free throws, he will make sure it hurts them.
Temple got up by six early after a big three point play from Mark Williams, who had eight. UConn then went on a 9-0 run behind five points from Ryan Boatright. Since that six point Temple lead, the Huskies closed out the half on a 21-7 run, giving them an eight point halftime lead.
UConn extended that lead to 11 after a DeAndre Daniels trey, and it looked like the Huskies were going to run away with another easy win over the Owls.
Anthony Lee then snagged a three point play. A three ball from Will Cummings then cut the Uconn lead to five.
It was a 44-38 game in favor of UConn with 12:42 to play in the game, and that is where Temple went completely ice cold. It wasn’t until almost seven minutes later that Temple finally scored another basket. Decosey scored Temple’s next seven points to bring the Owls back within nine.
UConn’s star point guard took it from there. Napier hit eight of eight free throws down the stretch to put Temple away. Final score: 68-55 Huskies.
This is Temple’s sixth double digit loss since January 21st; they’ve only played nine games since then. The miserable season for the Owls just keeps on getting worse. The SMU upset was a nice bright spot, but other than that, Temple fans have had very, very little to be happy about.
The brutal stretch for the Owls continues as they play two more ranked teams on the road in Memphis and Louisville this coming week.