DAYTON – This was almost like a perfect marriage of similar basketball schemes. Both Temple and Richmond play tight, aggressive defense and try to lull their opponent to sleep on offense.
And it was the Owls who took a long nap and never awoke, losing 64-49 to the Spiders Thursday night in the Atlantic Ten tournament quarterfinals. It is just the second time in 21 seasons the Owls have not advanced to the semifinal round.
Instead of watching the NCAA Tournament Selection Show this Sunday, Temple (15-13) will wait for a call from officials in charge of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). Needless to say, this wasn’t how the Owls wanted to leave Dayton.
“Of course I want to get back there, because my goal is to play basketball when I leave here,” senior guard David Hawkins said. “That’s where the limelight, that’s where prime time is, that’s where people are going to be watching. A few people are going to be watching the NIT, but everybody looks at the NCAA’s.
“I know what it’s like. I got spoiled my first year. I wanted to show these guys what it was like, make them hungry and try and make it every year.”
One missing piece to the puzzle was the non-existent play of sophomore center Keith Butler. Like many games this season, Butler got into early foul trouble and was sent to the bench.
After just six minutes, he got tagged for two fouls on consecutive possessions. He ended up playing 11 minutes and was tagged for four fouls. Butler had no points, no rebounds and attempted no shots.
“When they don’t score, we can’t win, and other teams know that,” Owls coach John Chaney said, referring to his two leading scorers, Hawkins and sophomore point guard Mardy Collins. “That’s why every time we’ve got the ball there’s two guys on [Hawkins]. You know you’re not getting nothing from your 7-footer on the floor…We’ve got only two guys that can score, and when they’re not scoring, Temple can’t win.”
With Butler on the bench and the Spiders stifling defense, both Hawkins and Collins had little room to fire off good shots. As a team, they hit only 34 percent from the field. Hawkins and Collins combined for 11-of-28 shooting and 31 points.
Nobody else on the squad, save Antywane Robinson’s eight points, provided offensive support.
The Spiders didn’t have gaudy statistics, but the Owls were pathetic on the stat sheet. Temple shot 20 percent from beyond the arc and couldn’t capitalize on anything despite a mere six turnovers. During a 9-minute stretch of the second half, they missed 13 straight shots and scored one point.
Just two Spiders connected on field goals in the first half, but that was good enough. Collins splashed a three with 1.8 seconds left in the half and cut the Owls deficit to 31-25.
Richmond senior guard Mike Skrocki notched 18 points and reserve guard Jermaine Bucknor had 17 and nine rebounds. Bucknor is averaging four points a game this season.
“What you do is you look at a team and you try to stop two guys. Some people try to stop all five, but you can’t,” Chaney said.
For the most part, the Spiders kept all the Owls in check. Temple did not mount a serious run in the second half and at one point, the deficit grew to 20.
Collins said Temple felt good coming into the game and didn’t foresee the awful shooting night. The Owls are ranked 320th out of 326 Division I schools in field goal shooting.
“The guys were not making shots,” Collins said. “Some guys, they feed off of made shots and when the ball is not heading into the hole, guys just kind of tank things. It’s hard to play like that.”
Jason Haslam can be reached at email@example.com