Owls’ comeback falls short against Trojans

Temple University men’s basketball lost 76-71 against the University of Southern California Saturday night after mounting a late comeback.

Khalif Battle, a sophomore guard, dunks the ball during the second half of the Owls' game against the University of South California at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 13. The Owls would go on to lose 76-71. | AMBER RITSON / TEMPLE NEWS

With 8.8 seconds left on the clock, University of Southern California senior guard Drew Peterson drained both free throws of a one-and-one, raising the Trojans’ lead to five points. 

Temple University men’s basketball (1-1, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) was defeated by the Trojans (2-0, 0-0 The PAC-12 Conference) 76-71 Saturday night at the Liacouras Center after making a comeback from an early scoring deficit. 

“They showed some resilience,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “They showed some fight.”

Facing a 19-point deficit heading into halftime, the Owls found their shooting touch late in the game and took the Trojans down to the wire. Sophomore guard Khalif Battle dropped 26 points during the contest, shooting five-of-nine from the 3-point range. 

However, Battle missed four free throws during the game,  including three key shots at the line down the stretch. The young guard led a Temple comeback revolving around intense defense and strong boxing out to secure rebounds. 

“We lost the game at the free throw line,” Battle said. “I can hold myself accountable for that one.”

Freshman forward Nick Jourdain forced three steals and had five points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Jourdain filled the stat sheet and gave the Owls a much-needed spark against the forward-heavy Trojans. 

In the first half, the Trojans went on a 13-0 run and stormed into halftime with a sizable lead. Trojans’ junior guard Boogie Ellis continued to handle the ball into the heart of Temple’s defense, finding one of his several forward options for scores. The Trojans outscored the Owls 28-8 in the paint during the first half. 

The Trojans shot 60 percent from the field and made two of their three attempts from three-point range. Redshirt-senior forward Chevez Goodwin led all scorers with nine points heading into halftime. 

The game was physical throughout, with a total of 46 fouls called, including 27 by both teams in the first half alone. Temple out-rebounded the Trojans 44-39 after losing in the category 21-19 at halftime. 

Trojans’ junior Isaiah Mobley did not play most of the first half after committing two fouls early in the game, but the Trojans won the battle down low until McKie made adjustments in the second half. 

Temple junior forward Jake Forrester did not see much floor time after the first few minutes. Temple’s rotation featured 10 men, with junior forward Sage Tolbert III and Jourdain going toe-to-toe with the Trojans’ big-men. 

The Trojans’ starting lineup featured mostly juniors and seniors, while Temple’s featured sophomores and freshmen getting the majority of the minutes. Freshman forward Zach Hicks scored eight points, including two key threes. 

The Owls started hitting shots with about 14 minutes left in the second half, going on a 15-3 run during a span of five minutes. They could not dig themselves out of the hole, though, and a Mobley three-pointer halted the run. 

“When it gets taken off, I don’t think anybody can stop us,” Battle said. 

The Owls face off against Clemson University (3-0, 0-0 The Atlantic Coast Conference) at the Charleston Classic tournament in Charleston, South Carolina on Nov. 18. 

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