The men’s basketball team’s less-than-exceptional play against middling talent has finally caught up to them.
Temple (8-2) suffered a 72-62 loss to Canisius (8-2) Wednesday at the Liacouras Center, its first home loss since Jan. 7, 2012. The Owls shot 35 percent on the game, including 25 percent in an abysmal second half when the Golden Griffins outscored the Owls by 18.
Temple shot 4-for-28 (14 percent) from three on the game, while Canisius made 10-of-21 threes (48 percent), including 7-of-12 (58 percent) in the second half.
Redshirt-senior forward Scootie Randall shot 3-for-16 on the game, including 1-for-12 from three. Senior guard Khalif Wyatt led Temple with 17 points, but went 0-for-6 from three. Temple is now 1-2 this season against teams with a winning record.
“I can’t say it’s overly surprising,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “The way we’ve been playing, we’ve been escaping with some wins, but we haven’t been playing well.”
“We’re not where we need to be right now,” Wyatt said. “We’ll just keep practicing and going about it game by game and try to get better as a team.”
The Owls were able to build leads of 11 and 12 points in the first half, but were unable to pull away from the Golden Griffins before halftime. Facing double-digit deficits twice, Canisius went on 7-0 runs with a little less than 10 minutes remaining and a little more than five minutes remaining in the first half to keep the game within reach.
Temple shot 45 percent in the first half, but couldn’t put Canisius away due to poor three-point shooting. The Owls went 2-for-12 (17 percent) from three in the first half.
Golden Griffins’ senior guard Harold Washington led all scorers with 11 first-half points. Canisius fared slightly better from three in the first half, making 3-of-9 attempts (33 percent).
Wyatt scored eight points on four field goals in the first half, but went 0-for-4 from three-point range. Graduate forward Jake O’Brien led Temple with nine points in the first half and hit both of the Owls’ treys.
“I thought we played a decent first half,” Dunphy said. “If we had repeated it in the second half, I obviously would have felt better.”
Temple’s three-point woes only worsened in the second half, and when Canisius starting hitting its threes, the Owls quickly fell behind.
The Golden Griffins went 7-for-12 (58 percent) from three-point range in the second half, while the Owls shot 2-for-15 (13 percent) from beyond the arc.
Randall made one of the Owls’ two treys in the second half, but shot 1-for-8 (13 percent) from three in the second half. On the game, he shot 3-for-16 (19 percent), including 1-for-12 (8 percent) from three.
“We have some good jump shooters who have a lot of confidence,” Wyatt said. “Everybody loves their shot when it’s going in and everybody hates it when it’s not going in. We just have to do what we do well and shots will start falling.”
“If you’re not making shots, you have to find other ways to help your team,” Dunphy said. That’s what [Randall] needs to do.”
Junior guard Billy Baron led Canisius with 13 points in the second half and added three assists. Junior guard Reggie Groves went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the second half, each trey seemingly more of a dagger than the next.
“I though Baron was tremendous controlling the tempo of the game,” Dunphy said. “He knew what his team needed to get him a victory. Groves hurt us badly in the second half.”
Temple got into the double bonus at the 7:39 mark of the second half, but continued taking ill-advised threes early into possessions and missing them. During the time the Owls were in the double bonus, the team attempted two free throws compared to 11 three-point attempts, missing 10 of them.
“You’re going to take what the defense gives you,” Dunphy said. “I’m going to look at how many threes were rushed. Would I have liked us to drive and take it to the rim and get fouled? Yeah, I’d certainly like to do that. I’m not sure how many opportunities we had.”
During that same time span, Canisius made 10 free throws and a three-pointer.
O’Brien seemed to be the only Owl who could make shots all night. He shot 5-for-7, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, accounting for three of the Owls’ four treys. He scored 14 points on seven shots, but was limited to 15 minutes.
“If I had a do over, I would have found way to get minutes for [O’Brien],” Dunphy said. “That’s on me. He had a pretty good pace of scoring, where the rest of us have to get better.”
As a team, Temple shot 25 percent in the second half, as opposed to Canisius’ 58 percent, and was outscored by 18. Baron finished with a game high 19 points, five assists and one turnover.
“I think Canisius just came in ready to play,” Wyatt said. “I think we had some good stretches, but toward the end they just made more shots than us. They came in here and got a good win.”
Temple’s next contest is against No. 3 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon. Jim Boeheim’s Orange are 10-0 and the coach is fresh off garnering his 900th career victory, which he obtained Monday night.
“It’s remarkable, [Boeheim’s] career,” Dunphy said. “He’s been there a long, long time and it seems like he’s getting better. And that’s scary.”
Joey Cranney can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @joey_cranney.