The men’s basketball team’s inconsistent streak continued Saturday as the Owls lost their second home game of the season 81-78 to St. Bonaventure.
The loss dropped Temple’s record to 12-5 and 2-2 in the Atlantic 10 Conference, while the Bonnies improved to 8-9 and 1-3. St. Bonaventure picked up its first win against Temple in the past 16 match-ups and its first win ever on the road against the Owls.
Temple is now 2-5 against teams with a winning record. The Owls beat then No. 3 Syracuse (16-1) at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 22, three days after losing to Canisius (12-7) of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Temple led then No. 6 Kansas (16-1) late at the Allen Fieldhouse, before the Jayhawks pulled away late. The next game, Temple lost to Xavier (11-6), ending a four-game losing streak for the Musketeers.
“I think [people] are overrating us,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “We’re not as good as maybe people think we are.”
Senior guard Khalif Wyatt led all scorers with 31 points, but fouled out of the game with 2 minutes, 28 seconds remaining. St. Bonaventure had five players score in double digits and shot 61 percent from three.
Temple shot 46 percent in the game, including 35 percent from three. The Owls shot 29 percent from three in the second half after shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc in the first half.
Graduate forward Jake O’Brien led all scorers in the first half with 16 points, but was limited to seven minutes in the second half. He finished with 16 points, a season high.
“We have to manage that a little bit better,” Dunphy said. “I have to do a better job. If you’re St. Bonaventure, you’re saying that you can’t let Jake shoot it in the second half. So I think it’s a little bit of both.”
“It’s just the flow of the game,” O’Brien said about his time in the second half.
Both teams ran an their offenses efficiently in the first half, but St. Bonaventure gained an advantage by limiting its mistakes.
The Owls shot 46 percent in the first half, while the Bonnies shot 47 percent. Temple hit 7 of 17 three pointers and St. Bonaventure hit 6 of 10 treys. The Owls had 11 assists on 13 first-half buckets while the Bonnies had 11 assists on 14 field goals.
“We needed better effort defensively,” Dunphy said. “Smarter effort. Our leaders have to step up and do a great job on the defensive end.”
St. Bonaventure scored 14 points off seven Temple turnovers in the first half. The Bonnies managed to limit themselves to two turnovers in the first half, which Temple scored two points from.
Temple’s bench outscored St. Bonaventure’s 19 to 4, due mostly to O’Brien, but the Bonnies outscored the Owls in the paint 14 to 2.
“They played harder than us,” Wyatt said. “They outworked us. I give a lot of credit to St. Bonaventure.”
St. Bonaventure started the second half with a 13-5 run, building a lead that would hover around seven to nine points for the majority of the half. Temple couldn’t cut the lead to less than seven until back-to-back threes got it down to four at the 6:28 mark.
Wyatt scored seven points in a row for Temple to cut the lead to one with less than three minutes remaining, but fouled out less than a minute later.
In Wyatt’s absence, Temple was only able to cut the lead to four before the Bonnies won the game from the free throw line. Two buckets from Temple in the final 10 seconds cut the score to three, but to no avail.
“We just have to get better with every game we play,” Wyatt said. “There’s a lot of season left.”
The Owls will next host the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. in Temple’s second Big 5 match-up of the season.
Joey Cranney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joey_cranney.