Pounding at the Palestra

When Temple and Penn came out of their locker rooms for warm-ups before the start of the second half, it was pretty evident who was ahead by 25 points. Penn was doing lay-up drills with

When Temple and Penn came out of their locker rooms for warm-ups before the start of the second half, it was pretty evident who was ahead by 25 points.

Penn was doing lay-up drills with the same vigor and energy as before the game, while the somber Owls slowly ambled back onto the court with little interest in playing another half.

The Owls are now 1-5, after a 65-63 road win over Penn State last night.

But the Owls’ 71-46 loss to Pennsylvania in the headlining game of the Big 5 Classic triple-header at the Palestra last Saturday still leaves plenty of unanswered questions.

That loss magnified how bad things have really gotten.

From the outset the Owls lacked any sort of flow or momentum and it seemed as if they were waiting for somebody to get things started.

Instead, the Quakers were more than happy to oblige, scoring the game’s first 13 points.

The Owls would cut that to 13-5 but got no closer as the 3-point parade by the Quakers would not ebb.

Owls coach John Chaney used various defensive sets to quell the Quakers torrid shooting, but nothing worked.

Using textbook ball movement, the Quakers created open looks, and when they weren’t hitting shots, they crashed the offensive boards with ease.

The Quakers (2-2) maintained their pressure using a 9-2 run in the last four minutes of the half, that saw the Owls carelessly turn their final possession into an easy lay-up for the Quakers as time expired.

Sounding ambivalent, Chaney questioned his tough schedule with such a young roster, but still vowed that he wasn’t changing his approach despite their pratfalls.

“My kids’ confidence may have already been destroyed,” Chaney said.

“For the rest of the year and that’s may be because of me. But guess what? I’m going to go back tomorrow, beat the sh– out of them, and keep beating them until a light comes on in their head.”

Senior forward Alex Wesby led the Owls with a career-high 27 points and eight rebounds on 11-for-17 shooting against Penn.

No other Owl scored in double figures.

Without Wesby’s hot shooting the rest of the team shot a wretched 5-for-32 for the field.

Despite no points or rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes, sophomore forward Hawley Smith’s gritty performance was masqueraded in the one-sided affair, as he neutralized the inside presence of Ugonna Onyekwe, the defending Ivy League player of the year.

However, the Quakers didn’t need an inside game as they shot 15-for-27 from beyond the arc.

Senior guard Dan Klatsky came off the bench to score 18 points on 7-for-8 from the field, and fellow senior guard Andrew Toole added 14.

The second half was more of the same.

The Quakers hit five three’s through the first eight minutes and at numerous times pushed the lead past 30 points.

Also glaring were six air balls that the Owls shot and they were once again out-rebounded by a 36-25 margin.

The Owls looked extremely flat coming off their three-game road trip in which they got stranded at the airport all day Thursday due to snowy conditions, which could have played a part in their performance.

But none of the Owls would accept such an excuse.

“You got to be ready to play the game no matter what,” sophomore guard Nile Murry said.

“We’re not making excuses for ourselves from the road trip or how the weather is.”

Junior guard David Hawkins accepted responsibility and suggested that maybe he and the other upper classmen aren’t doing a good job at leading the team in the right direction.

The Quakers came into this game, like the Owls, mired in an early-season slump and were looking to have a breakout game.

“I think we learned a lot from those losses,” Toole said.

“Areas where we were weak and areas we were strong but still needed improvement, so the two losses really helped us focus in on what we needed to do and obviously we came out and played well tonight.”

Needless to say the Owls have yet to respond from their dismal start, and desperation may set in if getting that first win of the season continues to evade them.

Jason S. Haslam can be reached at Jasonhaslam@yahoo.com

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