After being knocked off 68-55 by No. 21 Connecticut (20-5, 8-4 American Athletic Conference), it was apparent that Temple (7-17, 2-10 American) had its chances to pull off its second-straight upset. The Owls held the conference-leading scorer Shabazz Napier to a 3-of-11 night shooting, and the oft-gashed defense held the Huskies to nine points below their season average.
For all the Owls’ defensive success, their biggest detriment was an offensive performance. The team scored 55 points, good for the second-lowest total of the season, and 14 points shy of its season average.
“You have to finish plays,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “If you’re going to win a game against this quality of an opponent you have to make shots and we didn’t do that.”
Sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey struggled from the field early and often in the contest. After going 1-of-7 in the first half, DeCosey started the second half with four-straight misses to bring his shooting total to 1-of-11. While he finished the game 5-of-15, he acknowledged he left points on the table against a nationally-ranked opponent.
“We just missed shots for a stretch out there,” DeCosey said. “Towards the end [the offense came together] but it was a little too late.”
For all of DeCosey’s struggles, he was not alone in turning in a less than stellar shooting performance against UConn. Senior guard Dalton Pepper shot 4-of-18 from the field, and Temple was held to 33.9 percent from the floor. The 19-of-56 team effort consisted of stretches of more than six and four minutes without a field goal.
“We had our share of open looks from the perimeter, and obviously we didn’t do such a great job of knocking those down,” Dunphy said. “I thought we had enough open looks that we could have made more shots.”
After his performance against UConn, DeCosey is shooting 45-of-136 (33 percent) in the Owls last 10 games, eight of them losses. Through the stretch, he is also shooting 22.6 percent from beyond the arc.
“I just need to stay positive and not get down on myself and look to the next possession,” DeCosey said. “I’m in a little slump but I’m trying to work hard every day and get out of it.”
“I thought he took the ball to the basket today,” Dunphy said. “He didn’t shoot as well from the perimeter as we would have liked.”
Through DeCosey’s struggles, he remains a sophomore receiving 35.1 minutes of playing time per game. Second to Pepper, DeCosey’s playing time has increased 500 percent since his freshman season. With the ball in his hands more, he commands more of the defensive attention, forcing him to adjust his play.
“He’s trying his best and he is pushing himself as much as he possibly can,” Dunphy said. “Obviously we don’t have a lot of depth at the guard spot, but he is a strong kid and he is working real hard at the game. We need him to step up obviously.”
While DeCosey has struggled, he has out-shined his recruiting class. He added a career and game-high eight rebounds against UConn as well as collected two steals, giving him six in his last two contests. While sophomore forward Daniel Dingle will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury, and forward Devontae Watson has received starts, but not minutes, DeCosey remains the only sophomore making significant contributions.
DeCosey will join the Owls next when they play in Memphis on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 pm.
Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ibrahimjacobs.