For the third straight game to open conference play, Temple shot less than 40 percent from the field in the first half. That combined with Southern Methodist’s rebounding and scoring runs put Temple in a deficit as big as 21 points.
The Owls showed signs of life with a 13-3 run in the second half that included a steal, layup and an alley-oop by freshman guard Quinton Rose to cut it to a 10-point game. Rose got another one of his five steals and converted a layup on the other end to make it a nine-point game with one minute, 53 seconds left.
The late push wasn’t enough to prevent Temple (9-7, 0-3 American Athletic Conference) from dropping its third straight game in a 79-65 loss to the Mustangs at Moody Coliseum in Dallas. The Mustangs remained undefeated at home and extended their winning streak to nine.
Last year, Temple knocked off an unbeaten Southern Methodist team at the Liacouras Center. Prior to that, the Mustangs had won the last three meetings between the schools. Temple is now 2-6 against Southern Methodist since the two teams joined The American.
The Owls combined to go 10-of-51 from the field in losses to Cincinnati and Central Florida, shooting less than 20 percent to start conference play. The Owls started a perfect 3-for-3 and captured an early 11-6 lead before an 11-0 run by the Mustangs.
The Mustangs went on another 11-0 run from the 6:37 to the 4:38 mark before a basket by junior forward Obi Enechionyia, who led the Owls with 12 points in the first half. Temple would go scoreless for another 3:32 until a layup by freshman center Damion Moore with 54 seconds left.
Temple finished the half shooting 36 percent from the field, and the Mustangs went into halftime up 40-22. It was the third straight game Temple scored 26 points or less in the first half. Enechionyia made 4-of-8 attempts while the rest of the team combined to make 4-of-16 shots.
Redshirt-junior forward Semi Ojeleye led the Mustangs with 10 points in the first half to go with four boards. He finished the game with 19 points to lead all scorers. The Mustangs outrebounded Temple 22-12 in the first half, including 8-3 on the offensive glass.
The Owls started the second half on a 14-7 run to cut the 18-point halftime deficit to 11 points. Sophomore center Ernest Aflakpui scored on Temple’s second possession of the half, preceding four 3-pointers, including two from sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr, who had 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting from downtown.
The Mustangs answered with an 8-0 run, sparked by an alley-oop dunk by Ojeleye off an assist from sophomore guard Shake Milton. Ojeleye hit a jumper with 12:57 left to give Southern Methodist a 20-point lead.
Enechionyia shot 5-of-24 from the floor and averaged fewer than five points per game in Temple’s last three games before Wednesday night’s contest. He made his first two 3-point attempts against Southern Methodist and finished with 16 points.
Freshman guard Alani Moore and redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle combined for 11 assists. Dingle only had five points on 2-of-8 shooting. Rose finished with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including a powerful one-handed slam over a defender in the first half. Freshman forward Damion Moore had a career-high seven rebounds in the loss.
Senior guard Josh Brown didn’t play for the fifth straight contest. Temple’s next game is against East Carolina on Saturday at the Liacouras Center. The Pirates have started conference play 1-2. Temple is one of four teams to start American Athletic Conference play winless.
Owen McCue and Evan Easterling can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TTN_Sports.