By: Chase Senior and Connor Showalter
The men’s basketball team lost its Atlantic Ten Confercence season opener and saw its 25-game winning streak snapped by the Dayton Flyers (12-4, 2-0 A-10) by a score of 87-77 at the Liacouras Center on Saturday. The Owls’ (10-4, 0-1 A-10) streak was tied for the sixth-best streak in the nation.
Junior guard Khalif Wyatt scored a career-high 28 points in the loss. Wyatt played a big part in the Owls’ attempt to comeback as he scored 11 ponts in the final three minutes.
Coach Fran Dunphy said at the post-game press conference that the game was broken down into stretches where each team went on runs. Whenever the Owls looked like they were in control, the Flyers answered back.
The first half featured six ties and six lead changes. The Owls went on an 8-0 run with about six and a half minutes remaining in the first half to take a 28-20 lead. Redshirt-freshman forward Anthony Lee capped the run with a dunk for one of his two field goals.
Lee got into foul trouble and caused Dunphy to spell him at the 5:30 minute mark with sophomore guard Aaron Brown. Brown had five points on the night adding three assists.
The Flyers went on a 9-1 run to close the first half with five points from their senior guard Paul Williams during that stretch to tie the game at 31. Williams finished the game with nine points.
“Each team had their momentum and (Dayton) just took advantage of it,” senior guard Juan Fernandez said. “We were up eight in the first half and we let them comeback.”
Dayton used a balanced scoring attack with five players in double digits, including four of five starters, redshirt-junior guard Kevin Dillard (16), junior center Matt Kavanaugh (14), senior forward Luke Fabrizius (13), and senior forward Chris Johnson (12).
Flyers’ redshirt-senior guard Josh Parker made 16 of the team’s 23 bench points, giving the visitors an advantage against the Owls’ bench (seven points).
“Dayton played really well,” Dunphy said. “We’re going to be under-sized and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
In the second half, the Owls went on a 5-0 run to take a lead 49-43 six minutes into the half. Temple maintained the lead until Dayton went on a 5-0 run of its own to tie the game at 60 off a three pointer from Fabrizius with 7:30 remaining in the game.
“(Dayton) was the tougher team in the second half,” Wyatt said. “In certain stretches they just took advantage of their opportunities.”
The Flyers seemingly had a swing in the momentum and controlled a lead throughout the remaining stretch of the game despite Wyatt’s attempts to steal the momentum back during the last three minutes.
“We didn’t know how to stop that run and those things happen,” Fernandez said. “You just have to watch film.”
Offensively, both teams shot at least 50 percent from the field in the second half. Redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore and Fernandez also scored in double figures with 17 and 15 points respectively.
Temple will hit the road to face Saint Louis (13-3, 1-1 A-10) at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
Connor Showalter and Chase Senior can be reached at email@example.com.