Long before tip-off of the men’s basketball team’s New Year’s Eve date with No. 3 Villanova, John Chaney’s shirt cuffs had been unbuttoned and rolled up to his elbows. The 73-year-old coach’s signature black tie was loosened and sagging from his collar.
He must have known he was in for a long day.
Dominated by a fast-paced pressure defense, the Owls simply could not keep up with the Wildcats, who stayed unbeaten with a 75-53 win Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd of 8,722 at the Palestra.
The loss moved the Owls to 6-4 overall and 1-1 in the Big 5. The Wildcats secured their spot in the national polls by improving to 9-0 with their third win in three games against city rivals, having also defeated Penn and La Salle.
From the first possession to the last whistle, the Wildcats guarded tightly, using a man defense to create half-court traps and a dominant presence in the paint.
Villanova’s defensive sets helped it control the pace of the game, Chaney said.
“They had a full-court press. We got the ball where we needed it to go, but couldn’t put it in the basket,” he said.
The Owls are known for playing a slow-paced offense, frequently using all 35 seconds allotted on the shot clock. That was never an issue with Villanova, which kept the Owls on alert by pushing the ball up the floor with regularity all game.
Temple was able to keep the Wildcats in the 50-point scoring range for about 35 minutes of the game. When asked if the unbeaten Wildcats could have played any better than they did against his team, Chaney said no.
“They are as good as you saw today,” Chaney said. “They are not an ordinary team, fellows, by no means.”
The Owls remained within striking distance for much of the first half, exchanging leads with the Wildcats 10 times. Sophomore guard Mark Tyndale got the ball with a little over three minutes to play in the first half and the Owls trailing, 28-21.
Tyndale bricked a three-point attempt, and the rebound was scooped up by Villanova’s Randy Foye. Had Tyndale made the trey, he would have cut the Owls’ deficit to four points and put them in a manageable situation.
Instead Villanova made Tyndale and the Owls pay, hitting its next three shots to extend its lead, 35-21. Temple called a timeout and never recovered.
“In our minds, we have a feeling we’re going to score when they score,” Chaney said.
Senior guard Mardy Collins’ 19 points on 8-for-19 shooting were a team high, followed by 14 points from Tyndale, who shot 4-for-10. As a whole, the Owls shot 29 percent from the floor, compared to Villanova’s 41 percent.
In Temple’s locker room after the game, Collins compared the current Wildcats to the 2003-04 Saint Joseph’s Hawks, who featured current NBA players Jameer Nelson and Delonte West.
“I don’t think they are any better than that St. Joe’s team, but they are pretty close to that,” the all-America candidate said. “They beat us in every way they could have.”
In his second game back from dizzy spells, sophomore center Wayne Marshall got his first start of the season. All but two of his 16 minutes were played in the first half after Marshall tweaked his knee. Chaney said Marshall’s removal from the game early in the second half was precautionary.
“I couldn’t leave him out there on the floor,” he said. “As much as I wanted to win, I don’t want to sacrifice [losing] a kid.”
Despite hitting 10 of 16 second half free throws, the Owls went 55 percent from the charity stripe. At one point, they had only made six of 17 attempts. … Villanova freshman and Philadelphia native Shane Clark had four points and four rebounds in just his second collegiate game. … The Wildcats hauled in a season-high 19 offensive rebounds, two fewer than Temple’s 21 defensive boards.
The Owls begin Atlantic Ten Conference play this Wednesday against No. 12 George Washington, which suffered its first loss of the season Friday to No. 18 North Carolina State. The Colonials boast five players who average double-figure scoring, led by guard Danilo Pinnock’s 15.2 points.
GW was selected to finish first in the A-10, according to a preseason poll voted on by members of the media and A-10 coaches.
Tip-off for the game has been changed to 6 p.m. The game’s previously announced start time of 8 p.m. would have put the Owls’ game with the Colonials in competition with the Division I college football championship game.
For more photos from the Owls’ 75-53 loss to No. 3 Villanova, please visit Temple News staff photographer Steve Gengler’s Web site at www.stephengengler.com/nova1.html
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.