The Owls made a few runs against No. 21 Connecticut, but they weren’t enough.
While the Owls stayed close to the Huskies for much of Thursday night’s game, Temple’s efforts fell short as the team fell to UConn 68-55 at the Liacouras Center. With the loss, the Owls dropped to 7-17 on the season and 2-10 against American Athletic Conference opponents.
Sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey led the Owls with 16 points and a career high eight rebounds. The Owls shot 33.3 percent from the field, while UConn shot 48.3 percent. Before their loss to the Huskies, the Owls upset No. 23 Southern Methodist last weekend. Temple is currently in the midst of a five-game stretch in which the team faces a Top 25 opponent.
“That’s what you want,” Dunphy said. “You want that great challenge.
“It’s a tough schedule with the teams coming from the A-10 to this conference,” DeCosey said. “We’re just trying to accept the challenge and come out every night and play hard.”
The Owls kept the game close early, even taking the lead after an Anthony Lee layup. A few minutes later, a Dalton Pepper jumper gave Temple its largest lead of the night – 18-15 with 12:10 remaining in the first. The Huskies started the game 2-of-9 from the field, while Temple was helped by starting the game 2-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc.
From there, however, the Huskies recovered. After a foul was called on DeCosey, UConn’s Neils Giffey drilled both of his free throws – beginning a 25-10 run to close out the first half. Junior guard Ryan Boatright led the Huskies during the first half with nine points and junior forward DeAndre Daniels tallied eight – including three dunks. Still, Dunphy said that he thought his team’s defense was better than in the Owls’ last loss to UConn.
“We did some good things, but you’ve got to finish plays,” Dunphy said. “We had a couple of opportunities – wide open jump shots that just didn’t go. If you’re going to win this game against this quality of an opponent, you’ve got to make shots and we didn’t do that.”
“I thought we ran our offense well enough to get some decent looks,” Dunphy added. “There were other times that we were rushing things that we just can’t do. We have to manage the game a little bit better.”
During the first half, UConn had eight fast breaks to Temple’s zero. At halftime, the Huskies led 33-25.
After a UConn turnover three minutes into the second half, junior guard Will Cummings drilled a three pointer to cut the Huskies’ lead to five.
Senior guard Shabazz Napier, who scored 34 points in UConn’s most recent game against Memphis, was held to two points during the first half. Temple failed to hold him off for the entire game, however, as Napier finished with 17 points. Napier’s first field goal of the second half began a 12-3 UConn run that gave the team a 52-38 lead.
Temple went on a 7-1 run with less than three minutes remaining in the game, but it was too late to make a difference as the Huskies went 9-10 from the line to finish the game.
The Owls will travel to Memphis this weekend for a Saturday night match-up against Memphis.
“We’re going to have to be ready to go,” Dunphy said. “Everyone has to step up and do their job.”
Avery Maehrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.