In its home opener at the Liacouras Center, Temple (1-1) fell to Kent State (2-0) 81-77 after blowing an eight-point lead during the final minutes of the second half.
Temple’s starting lineup was identical to the one coach Fran Dunphy utilized during Saturday’s win against Penn: senior guard Dalton Pepper, junior forward Anthony Lee, junior guard Will Cummings, freshman forward Mark Williams and sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey.
Three pointers hurt the Owls tonight, as the Golden Flashes shot 11 for 22 from beyond the arc. Temple, on the other hand, went 5 for 19 on three pointers. The Owls scored two points off the bench, while Kent State substitutes collected 22 points.
“I thought our three-point jump shooting defense today was really poor,” Dunphy said. “We over-helped way too much. They took advantage of it. We got an indication that they were going to shoot the ball well early. It wasn’t like they came out cold, they were shooting it well. We just didn’t make the adjustment. That’s was a disappointing thing.”
“And then in the second half, we don’t get any thrust to the basket,” Dunphy added. “We don’t get to the foul line. But, we’re a work in progress, we’re growing and I hope we will learn a great lesson from today.”
The Owls started the game off strong, as they did not miss a shot from the field until Cummings failed on a dunk attempt with 13:27 remaining in the first half. A 9-0 Temple run gave the Owls an early 19-10 lead.
Cummings posted a career-high seven assists and led the team with 17 point. DeCosey posted a career-high 16 points, while Lee scored 16 as well in addition to grabbing 11 rebounds. All starters posted double-digit points, with Pepper scoring 15 and Williams posting 11 points in the second game of his career.
At halftime, Temple led Kent State 42-38.
The Owls led for most of the second half, but the Golden Flashes kept the game close. With 6:11 remaining, Kent State went on a 9-0 run. A layup by Mark Henniger gave the Golden Flashes a 70-69 lead with 4:40 remaining.
Temple was forced to foul during the final seconds of the game. Although the Golden Flashes missed four of their six final six free throws, the Owls were unable to capitalize.
A collision with Lee and Pepper after a missed free throw from K.K. Simmons resulted in Kent State regaining possession with 30 seconds remaining.
“I just kind of missed the ball,” Lee said. “I bobbled it. I came out from the side and I reached behind me, but the ball had a second bounce to it and I thought it was going to come off. I tried to reach back and try and grab it, and it came off my hands.”
With the Golden Flashes leading 77-73, Cummings was charged with a charge after stealing the ball from Derek Jackson. A pair of free throws from Devareaux Manley effectively sealed the game for Kent State, giving them the 81-77 victory.
DeCosey played the 37 minutes in Monday’s game, the most on the team.
“I’m extremely comfortable out there, especially on the offensive end,” DeCosey said. “Coach Dunphy gives us a lot of freedom. He just expects us to get stops on defense.”
Temple will next play at Towson this Thursday at 7 p.m.
Avery Maehrer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.