Second-half struggles hurt Temple in loss to East Carolina

Temple Men’s Basketball allowed East Carolina to take control of the contest with nine straight points in the second half.

Temple Men's Basketball let up nine straight points and lost to East Carolina 73-62. | TRAE BYRD / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Following Temple Men’s Basketball win against Wichita State on Jan. 7, head coach Adam Fisher urged his team to have confidence in taking shots after the team shot just 38 percent from the field. The Owls fired away against East Carolina, attempting 27 of their 55 shots from beyond the three-point arc. 

Unfortunately for the Owls, that confidence didn’t lead to points. Temple shot even worse from the field and failed to win its fifth consecutive game against the Pirates, falling back to .500 on the year.

Temple (8-8, 1-2 American Athletic Conference) lost to ECU (9-7, 2-1 AAC) 73-62 Wednesday night at The Liacouras Center. The Owls allowed nine straight points midway through the second half, and the Pirates coasted from there to take the win.

“That’s a good team, really well coached,” Fisher said. “I’ve known [ECU coach Michael Schwartz] for a long time. He’s got some really talented guys that like to go one-on-one and can really score the basketball.”

The Owls have struggled all season with offensive consistency, and Wednesday emphasized their issues with the ball. Guard Hysier Miller followed up his 17-point outing against the Shockers with just six points, four of which came in the first half. Forward Sam Hofman went scoreless, and guard Matteo Picarelli and forward Steve Settle III combined for just 13 points.

The Owls still found themselves leading the Pirates for most of the first half thanks to guards Jordan Riley and Shane Dezonie. The duo accounted for 21 of the Owls’ 31 first-half points and kept the Pirates at arm’s reach.

Riley found himself in foul trouble and was pulled with seven minutes left in the first half, and Temple’s five-point vanished in the blink of an eye. The Pirates turned the Owls’ six first-half turnovers into 11 points, which helped them take a two-point lead into the locker room.

“We gave up 33 in the first half and 14 in the first however-many minutes to start the [second] half,” Fisher said. “It’s not us. We gotta defend and rebound, and we didn’t do that to start the second half.”

The Owls were still searching for a rhythm in the second half, but the Pirates had found theirs. ECU forward Ezra Ausar set the tone by slamming a dunk to open the second half, and the Pirates sprinted out to a 12-point lead with three straight makes from beyond the arc. 

Temple’s offense was flipped on its head in the second half. The Owls shot just 21 percent, and Riley followed up his 12-point first half by not scoring until about seven minutes left in the game, finishing with 15 points.

The Owls tried to claw their way back into the game and got to within seven points with 10 minutes left thanks to guard Jahlil White, who finished with 13 points. However, the Pirates’ lead ballooned back up to 13 to close out the contest.

“It was a good game in the first half,” Fisher said. “We got into a little bit of foul trouble, but then they punched us in the mouth to start the second half, and we weren’t able to respond to it the way I would have liked.”

Temple will return to action when they travel to Denton, Texas, to play North Texas (9-5, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) on Jan. 13 at 6 p.m.

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