Owls defeat USF to end six-game losing streak

Sophomore guard Khalif Battle led the Owls in scoring with 22 points.

Sophomore guard Khalif Battle dribbles the ball down the court during the Owls' game against the University of Houston at the Liacouras Center on Jan. 23. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With stellar defense and a balanced offensive attack, the Owls evened their series against South Florida in Wednesday night’s rematch of Sunday’s loss to the Bulls. 

The Owls (5-10, 4-10 The American Athletic Conference) defeated the Bulls (8-9, 4-7 The American) 65-47 thanks to a high-efficiency offense powered by 3-point shooting and impressive defense that led to 17 USF turnovers. 

The win snaps a six-game losing streak for the Owls, who had not won since their Jan. 26 matchup against Tulsa. 

“We’re learning how to win,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “It’s not easy, especially when you’re playing a lot of young guys. We’re asking a lot of young guys to do a lot of big things for us out there.”

On Sunday night, the Owls lost despite making 10 3-point shots and a career-high 32 points from sophomore guard Khalif Battle. They fell 83-76 after their worst defensive performance of the season.

Wednesday’s rematch brought a change in defensive tone for the Owls, as they ceded just 47 points and forced ten more turnovers than in Sunday’s game.

“That was the difference in the last game,” McKie said. “I thought we did a good job closing the game out.”

Battle once again led Temple’s offense, scoring a team-high 22 points on an efficient 9-15 from the field. Battle also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.

”I’m starting to feel more comfortable out there,” Battle said. 

Although Battle was the leading scorer, Temple’s offense was not one-dimensional. Five Owls made multiple 3-point shots, including Battle, freshman forward Nick Jourdain, senior forward J.P. Moorman II, senior forward De’Vondre Perry and freshman guard Jeremiah Williams. 

“We’re playing better together,” Battle said.

Thanks to their balanced offensive attack, the Owls saw Battle, Moorman II, Perry and Williams all score in double figures. 

“The more experience I can get those guys, the better it will be for our program moving forward,” McKie said. “Any time you win, it feels good.”

The Owls will be back in action Saturday at 4 p.m. as take on the Central Florida Knights (8-11, 6-10 The American) in Orlando, Florida.

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