In what was their final non-conference game before facing off against teams in The American, the Owls were trailing in a 70-58 affair with 10 minutes left on the clock. In the end, the Owls’ poor shooting and lackluster rebounding down the stretch wasted a potential comeback opportunity.
In what was supposed to be a convincing morale-boosting victory, the Owls left The Liacouras Center with more questions than answers.
Temple Men’s Basketball (6-7, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) lost to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (5-7, 0-0 The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) 86-78 Tuesday night. Coming off of two consecutive losses it seemed like the Owls could avoid a third straight defeat early on, but a late-game offensive spark by the Hawks gave the Owls their seventh loss on the season.
“When adversity hits, top teams in the country, teams we want to compete with, come together,” said sophomore forward Zach Hicks. “I think we are failing to do that right now.”
Despite giving up 43 points in the first half, the Owls were able to enter halftime with a two-point lead against the Hawks. Hicks finished the half with a season-high 14 first half points, but only went on to score 15 points in the game.
Both teams were in need of a win; the Shore Hawks went 1-3 in their last four games, averaging 56 points per game in their three previous losses and the Owls also averaging 56 points per game in their two consecutive losses heading into the matchup.
Tonight, it was Maryland Eastern-Shore who was able to break the downward trend.
“Everybody got to buy in, it’s a collective thing,” said sophomore guard Hysier Miller. “Everybody got to want to do it and to actually do it is to be a part of a team.”
With the loss of sophomore center Jamille Reynolds in the paint due to a thumb injury, graduate center Kur Jongkuch and sophomore forward Nick Jourdain replaced the big man. Maryland Eastern-Shore lacked size down low, deploying a squad with 6’7” sophomore forward Troy Hupstead as their tallest player. Jongkuch and Jourdain combined for 19 points and eight rebounds.
Even with a size disadvantage, the Hawks dominated the boards early on. As a team, Temple was outrebounded 19-17 in the first half and the final rebound tally saw Temple fall 40-29 in the category.
“[Maryland Eastern Shore is] not a really big team,” McKie said. “I think [their rebounding advantage] is just desire more than anything else.”
The Owls shot out to a 8-0 lead in the first three minutes, but the Hawks’ three-point shooting in the first half kept the game close. Similar to their last matchup, the 2021 season-opener, the initial 20 minutes saw lots of back-and-forth action. The difference this time was the second half performances.
Temple has recently struggled to close games, finishing their loss to the University of Mississippi (8-4, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) on Dec. 17 with a 11-2 Rebels run. This was after their loss to the University of Pennsylvania (6-7, 0-0 Ivy League) on Dec. 10 where the second half saw the Quakers put up 51 points. The Hawks managed to score 43 in both halves tonight.
The Owls first half defense struggles kept the Hawks in the game early. Last matchup, the Hawks put up 49 points in the game as a whole, yet they had only six fewer in just one half against the Owls.
In the second half, the Hawks got out to a 62-54 lead on the back end of a 12-0 run. The Hawks’ well-rounded scoring attack saw five players reach double-digit scoring totals and gave Maryland Eastern-Shore the confidence to keep shooting from beyond the arc. Senior guard Da’Shawn Phillip led the Hawks with 18 points on the game and helped usher the Hawks to their first away win of the season.
To make matters worse, with three minutes and 53 seconds left in the first half redshirt sophomore guard Damian Dunn attempted to take a charge from graduate guard Zion Styles. Dunn landed awkwardly on his back and remained on the floor for more than a minute. He did not return to the contest.
Temple opens up conference play with an away matchup against East Carolina University (8-4, 0-0 The American) at 7 p.m. on Dec. 28 at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina.