Owls miss chance to claim outright Big 5 title with loss to Penn

Temple Men’s Basketball looked undisciplined in a 77-57 loss to the University of Pennsylvania that ended in a 24-4 scoring run by the Quakers.

Temple Men's Basketball lets up 51 second half points, undermining their position as the undisputed leader in the Big 5. EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

As the streamers came down on the court at The Palestra, the Owls walked off the court with heads down low. After more than a decade without an outright Big 5 championship, Temple failed to claim an outright title after losing to the Quakers Saturday afternoon. Penn junior guard Jordan Dingle scored 30 points and dished out six assists in a dominant performance over the Owls. 

Temple Men’s Basketball (6-5, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) was defeated by the University of Pennsylvania (6-7, 0-0 Ivy League) 77-57 at The Palestra. Villanova University has won seven of the last eight Big 5 championships, but now a share of the title can go to the Wildcats if they defeat Saint Joseph’s University on Dec. 17.

“I so desperately wanted to outright win it,” said Temple head coach Aaron McKie. “My biggest concern is how we played. Nothing worked.”

Redshirt sophomore guard Khalif Battle was tasked with guarding the Ivy League’s leading scorer in Dingle. Dingle entered the game averaging more than 23 points per game, and with Penn’s fast-flowing offense he found himself open throughout the game. 

Similar to Temple’s gameplan against Virginia Commonwealth University (5-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10) on Dec. 3, Battle spent most of the game defending the opponent’s leading threat. Battle’s development as a defensive player has been on display during the past few weeks from guarding VCU junior guard Adrian Baldwin Jr. to Dingle for most of today. However, Dingle got the better of Battle in Saturday’s matchup.

“[Dingle’s] ability to score in so many different ways,” said Quakers head coach Steve Donahue. “I thought he controlled the game.”

Penn was effective on offense in the first half. Donahue ran several plays in which Penn players were open for backdoor cuts or open threes. Dingle began the game with seven points in the first 13 minutes with the Quakers utilizing switches and screens to create separation for their scorers. 

Heading into the half, the Owls still found themselves leading by two points, a fortunate situation for a team who committed seven turnovers throughout the period and didn’t score any field goals for the final three minutes. The Quakers finished on a shooting streak where they made one of their final nine attempts. 

Penn was without junior guard Clark Slajchert who missed the game with a knee injury. Slajchert has shot 38 percent from beyond the arc this season but the three-point production remained the same for the Quakers. The Quakers shot 40 percent from three in the first half and 38.1 percent for the game. 

In the paint, Temple sophomore center Jamille Reynolds took advantage of the smaller forwards Penn utilized down low. The Quakers’ offensive speed sacrificed a defensive size matchup, leading to Reynolds having his way around the rim. 

Reynolds finished the game with 13 points, nine rebounds and several second-chance opportunities capitalized on for the Owls. Four minutes into the second half he collected his own miss and dunked on three Penn defenders. 

Temple entered the game giving up 67.9 points per game to opponents but during their win streak they have allowed only 61.3 per game. Against the Quakers, the Owls gave up 26 first half points on 36 percent shooting. Temple scored 14 points below their season average. 

In the first half the Owls went to three substitutes who contributed with a combined six points while the Quakers went to six players off the bench who combined for zero points all together. 

The second half saw more Penn ball movement leading to easy scores for the Quakers. Penn went on a 7-0 run around five minutes into the period in which they were forcing Temple turnovers and creating buckets in transition. Temple fell to a seven-point deficit with 15 minutes remaining.

Junior flex guard Max Martz played a key role for the Quakers down the stretch, shooting six for eight from the field and making two threes. His ability to stretch the floor shot Penn out to their second half lead when Temple began falling into the paint to prevent backdoor cuts. 

On the offensive end, missed free throws and broken transition offense still hurt the Owls, though, as Temple didn’t score a field goal for five minutes down the stretch. Dingle and Penn’s 14 offensive rebounds were a recipe for Temple’s downfall late in the game. 

“We didn’t get stops,” Battle said about the players’ performance. “It’s our fault. It’s on us.”

Temple hopes to return to winning ways with a trip to the University of Mississippi (6-2, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) on Dec. 17 before heading home to take on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (3-6, 0-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) on Dec. 20. 

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