Quinton Rose drove the length of the court and flushed in a two-handed dunk with 10 minutes, 44 seconds left in the first half to give Temple a two-point lead.
Coach Fran Dunphy said it was the one of the only easy shots his team got all night.
Rose’s basket ended up being Temple’s second-to-last field goal of the first half. It also marked the last time Temple held an advantage for the rest of the game.
Southern Methodist finished the first half on a 16-4 run to take a 10-point advantage into the break. The Mustangs held off a comeback attempt in the second half, taking down Temple 66-50 on Thursday night at the Liacouras Center.
“We didn’t have enough,”Dunphy said. “We got ourselves in big trouble in that first half.”
After Rose’s first-half dunk, the Owls (13-12, 4-8 American Athletic Conference) went more than 10 minutes without a made field goal. Temple made just six field goal attempts in the first 20 minutes of play, shooting 24 percent from the floor. Dunphy’s team trailed 28-18 at halftime.
It was the third time this season Temple scored fewer than 20 points in the first half. The Owls scored 16 points in the first half of their Dec. 13 loss to Villanova. The team scored 11 points in the first half of its loss to Central Florida on Dec. 31.
Temple turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and finished the game with 17 turnovers. The Mustangs scored 17 points off turnovers. The Mustangs used their length and a press to pressure Temple into mistakes.
“It’s just a long team so we had to throw over their length and we struggled with that a couple times,” sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. said.
The Owls cut Southern Methodist’s lead to six twice in the second half, but both times the Mustangs responded quickly.
Eighteen seconds after senior guard Mike Robbins’ two free throws made the score 61-55 with 7:54 left, Mustangs’ redshirt-junior forward Semi Ojeleye hit a 3-point shot.
Ojeleye was a handful for Temple’s defense all game. He scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“He’s a really good player,” Dunphy said. “We had it to six and we had the momentum going then he just labeled us up and made a big three that got it back to nine again.”
Rose had the most efficient night for Temple, making five of his 11 attempts for 12 points.
Alston finished with 13 points on 4-of-15 shooting, and redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle added 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Junior forward Obi Enechionyia was 3-of-11 for eight points in addition to 11 rebounds.
The Owls went 8-of-30 from 3-point range. The Owls’ 50 points tied a season-low point total. The other outing was the team’s 56-50 loss to Cincinnati on Dec. 28. Enechionyia said the team’s shot selection is contributing to its offensive struggles.
“We gotta attack the basket,” Enechionyia said. “And sometimes we settle for jump shots too much and it’s tough to win a game when you do that. I don’t think we draw enough fouls so the only way to do that is to attack the basket and that gets them in foul trouble and makes the game easier.”
Owen McCue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Owen_McCue. Follow The Temple News on Twitter @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.