Coleman, Owls fall short against No. 1 North Carolina

The Owls lost to North Carolina 91-67 Friday night at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Senior guard Devin Coleman drives during the Owls' 91-67 defeat to North Carolina Friday at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Maryland. | Jenny Kerrigan TTN

With the ball in his right hand, Devin Coleman began dribbling at the top right corner of the elbow to begin the Owls halftime warmup Friday at Alumni Hall.

The senior guard maneuvered to the hoop and flicked the ball with his wrist, sailing the ball over the hoop and air balling his first warmup shot.

Coleman’s miss mirrored Temple’s struggles in the second half, as the Owls shot 34 percent in the second half in their 91-67 defeat to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the No.1 team in the AP Top 25 Poll.

“We had some really good stretches, but some others that we can’t have,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “A couple of quick shots we can’t afford and against a team like that, they are going to take advantage of every mistake.”

After scoring 16 points in the first half, the Tar Heels’ defense held Coleman to three points on 1-of-3-shooting in the second half.  The senior guard played five minutes in the second half and said he was limited because of an injured calf.

Coleman’s 19 points Friday were a career high and a team high.

“I can’t pinpoint anything they did differently,” Coleman said on how North Carolina defended him in the second half. “But I’m sure they made adjustments. All good teams make adjustments.”

The Tar Heels, who were without starting senior guard Marcus Paige, were led by junior forward Kennedy Meeks, who scored 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. He also added a game-high 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.

North Carolina had four players score double figure points, including senior forward Brice Johnson, who scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. On the night, North Carolina shot 50 percent from the field and 58 percent from 3-point range.

“We gave up way too many offensive rebounds,” Dunphy said. “They had 15 for the game and there were times when we were in position, but we didn’t do a good job of making the contact and keeping them off.”

North Carolina controlled the rebounding advantage Friday night, as the Tar Heels totaled 49 rebounds, including 15 offensive.

Dunphy said his squad struggled with North Carolina’s size. The Tar Heels have five players, including three starters, who are 6-foot-8 inches or taller.

“They are really talented inside, and we knew that,” Dunphy said. “Going in, we knew the offensive rebound numbers they had as a team are Top 5 in the country. We knew what we were up against, and we were prepared for that but we didn’t follow through.”

The Owls grabbed 32 rebounds on the night while they were without sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia, who missed the game with an injured ankle. Enechionyia averaged 5.3 points per game last season.

Senior guard Quenton DeCosey said Enechionyia’s absence affected the Owls’ offense and defense.

“It was a little tough because with Obi, he can stretch the defense and bring some of their bigs out,” DeCosey said. “Obi definitely would have had some good minutes out there.”

After Coleman tied the game at 34 with 2:28 remaining in the first half, the Tar Heels closed the half on a 13-2 run to take a 47-36 lead into halftime. Nine of North Carolina’s final 13 points came from the 3-point line, and the team shot 5-of-8 from behind the arc in the first half.

“In the first half, I felt we came out strong,” DeCosey said. “We competed, and that was good. In the second half, we fell down.”

After a  5-0 lead two minutes into play, the Owls did not regain the lead. The Tar Heels claimed their first lead, 12-11, on a jump shot from sophomore guard Joel Berry II.

In the second half, North Carolina led by as many as 20 points, and the Owls did not trim North Carolina’s lead to less than eight points.

“We had our chances in the second half to keep it close,” Dunphy said.

In the final minute of the game, North Carolina’s Johnson dunked the ball and was shoved by freshman guard Levan Shawn Alston Jr., inciting a shoving match on the floor. Alston received a dead-ball technical foul for his actions. Nate Britt, North Carolina’s junior guard, was ejected from the game for running onto the floor during the ensuing scuffle.

Michael Guise can be reached at or on Twitter @Michael_Guise

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