PITTSBURGH — If it takes a basketball team around 12 minutes to score its first basket from the floor, that team probably will not win. This is exactly what occurred as No. 19 Temple was upset by Duquesne, 78-66.
The Owls found themselves in an early hole when the Dukes opened the game with a 22-2 run where the Owls’ only points came from free throws from junior center Michael Eric and sophomore guard TJ DiLeo. The Dukes applied pressure on every possession, which left Temple’s offence flummoxed.
“They were hungrier and tougher than we were in every sense of the word,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “They stepped up and made shots when they needed to, they were good defensively and we were not too good early in the game today.”
“We weren’t as ready as we needed to be and they started making shots and we were missing shots,” junior guard Juan Fernandez added. “They play a weird style of defense, I don’t think many teams play the way they play, so it was hard to practice for that, it was hard to get used to it and we never did get used to it.”
It was a brutal first half for the Owls. The team did not have a field goal until the eight minutes, 19 second mark when sophomore guard Khalif Wyatt hit a three-pointer. Lineup mainstays Eric, senior forward Lavoy Allen and junior guard Ramone Moore combined for one point and two rebounds and the entire team shot 16.7 percent from the floor. On the flipside, Duquesne shot 66.7 percent from the floor and were fueled by senior forward Bill Clark, who had 13 points in the first half.
The team’s performance did improve in the second half as the Owls saw their shooting percentage climb to 41.9 percent and after going scoreless in the first half, Moore erupted for 18 points to lead the Owls in scoring to make the game more competitive, but the deficit was too big for the Owls to handle.
“We had our chances to come back, but when we got a little bit of a sniffing of a comeback, they stepped up and did what they needed to do,” Dunphy said. “You have to keep your poise and we didn’t do that.”
“22-2 is a great statement by Duquesne and not much of a statement by us,” he added. “We battled back, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Clark would lead the Dukes with 22 points. Junior guard Eric Evans finished with 13 points and freshman guard Mike Talley and senior forward Damian Saunders finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively for Duquesne. Up next, the Owls will return home to take on Penn on Jan. 19.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.