In each of Temple’s first two losses this season, the offense had struggled to find a rhythm, shooting a lower field-goal percentage than its respective opponents in both contests.
On Wednesday, the Owls beat St. Joseph’s in that statistic, but failed to win the game.
Temple fell to the Hawks by a score of 58-56 Wednesday night at Hagan Arena, despite shooting 40.8 percent from the field – the Hawks, by comparison, shot 35.7 percent from the floor.
The Hawks led for more than 37 minutes in the game, holding off a late Temple rally despite shooting 25 percent in the second half. A key throughout was offensive rebounds, as they collected 14 during the contest, five of which came from junior forward Isaiah Miles.
Miles finished the game with a team-high 20 points and nine total rebounds. St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli was pleased with not only his performance on the offensive glass, but also his confidence in shooting the ball.
“I like the fact that he shot the ball,” Martelli said. “He stepped up and took the shots that were there. He thought they were going in. For the first six games, he shot it [thinking], ‘Well, I’m supposed to shoot it.’ Not that he thought it was going in.”
For Temple, junior guard Quenton DeCosey led the way with a game-high 22 points, including three of five 3-pointers.
The Union, New Jersey product also had the responsibility of guarding Hawks sophomore forward DeAndre’ Bembry for much of the game, who was the Hawks’ leading scorer with 14.7 points per game going into Wednesday night.
Temple coach Fran Dunphy was pleased with DeCosey’s effort on Bembry, who also led St. Joseph’s in rebounds (6.8 per game) and assists (3.2 per game) heading into the contest.
“I think that’s the best defense [DeCosey] has played since he’s been at Temple,” Dunphy said. “Hopefully, we can get him to really take the challenge. Because when you play that position in college basketball, you’re going to play some really good offensive players … so I thought he took the challenge tonight.”
Dunphy’s entire team was challenged from the start Wednesday night, due mostly to the Hawks’ quick start on the offensive end. Despite missing many shots, the Hawks capitalized on Temple’s inability to rebound, which led to a 34-22 halftime lead.
An example of this occurred in the opening minutes of the contest. After senior guard Chris Wilson missed a 3-pointer at the 17:16 mark in the first half, redshirt sophomore forward Javon Baumann leaped and slammed the put-back home.
The play would be an indication of the rest of the night, as the Hawks would collect another 12 offensive rebounds the rest of the game.
Another area that hurt Temple was turnovers, especially in the first half. The Owls gave the ball away nine times in the game’s opening 20 minutes, and finished with 14 of them overall.
DeCosey committed five of them, including one which included a controversial call in the game’s final minute.
With 23 seconds to go, Temple came out of a timeout trailing the Hawks, 57-56. After passing the ball around the perimeter, DeCosey started to drive to the basket, but was called for a “hooking” foul. Initially, Dunphy wasn’t sure what the violation was.
“I don’t know what that call was,” he said. “It was a hook … [but] I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was.”
It was DeCosey’s lone turnover of the second half, but it proved to be costly. After Miles made 1 of 2 at the free throw line, senior guard Will Cummings drove to the basket with under 10 seconds left.
Cummings, who finished the game on 3-of-15 shooting, had his shot blocked by Bembery, and DeCosey missed the last shot of the game.
The loss dropped the Owls to 4-3, and 1-1 in Big 5 play this year. St. Joseph’s improved to 4-3, winning its first Big 5 game this season.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.