Temple Men’s Basketball entered Saturday’s contest against Columbia looking to open their season with a 4-0 start for the first time since the 2019-20 season, but poor defense put an end to its unbeaten streak.
The Owls struggled around the rim, especially late in the game, allowing multiple offensive rebounds down the stretch while struggling to make easy layups. The Owls allowed eight offensive rebounds that led to eight second-chance points for Columbia.
Temple had a chance to pull out a win down by two points with 12 seconds left, but guard Jordan Riley threw the ball out of bounds with five seconds left after two Columbia free throws, and one more free throw from the Lions pushed the game out of reach.
Temple (3-1, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) fell to Columbia (3-2, 0-0 Ivy League) 78-73 Saturday at The Liacouras Center in a frustrating fashion. The Owls dropped their first game of the season to a Columbia team that had not yet won a game against a Division I opponent this season.
“Not the result that we wanted,” said Temple head coach Adam Fisher. “We’ll come back, we got some things to clean up. This one’s going to hurt, but we got to move on and get ready for the next one.”
The Lions dominated from behind the three-point line in the win. They finished at 42 percent from beyond the arc, compared to the Owls’ 33 percent, and had seven different players hit a three.
Guard Jaden Cooper was the main contributor to the Lions’ success from three-point range, making a team-high three shots from beyond the arc. Guard Avery Brown finished the game with a team-high 13 points on 5-10 shooting and added three rebounds and five assists.
Temple guard Hysier Miller was the top scorer again for his squad, finishing with a career-high 29 points on 10-22 shooting, adding four rebounds and six assists.
“Teammates give me good looks,” Miller said. “Sometimes the defense gives good looks, and the coaches trust me to shoot”
The Owls struggled defensively in the first half, while the Lions moved the ball extremely well. Columbia players assisted on 13 of their 17 field goals, capitalizing on their off-ball movement and Temple’s miscommunication.
The Owls struggled to make shots toward the end of the first half, making just two of their final 10 shots in the half. The Lions finished the half on a 13-0 run, giving them a 44-37 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We just got to do a little bit of a better job communicating,” Fisher said. “We talked about that a lot, how our intensity on the defensive end wasn’t there to start. This is a good team, again, it doesn’t matter who you play. They came in feeling good, and they executed. Huge credit to them. They did a great job.”
The beginning of the second half was more of the same. The Owls came out of the locker room and made just one of their first 11 shots. Columbia extended its lead to 14 points because of Temple’s struggles.
Temple did not go down without a fight, as Miller’s three-pointer, followed by a block from guard Zion Stanford, sparked life with 12 minutes remaining.
That block ignited a 10-2 run, closing the Lions’ lead to just six points with 11 minutes remaining. Temple continued to claw back, cutting the Lions’ lead to two with 13 seconds left. However, Temple allowed five offensive rebounds in the final six minutes of play, and Columbia cut time off the clock, leading to the win.
“We need to work on drives through contact,” Fisher said. “They gave up three offensive rebounds. Most nights we’ll be undersized, but we need to fight for the loose balls.”
Temple forward Steve Settle III was injured in Temple’s win against Drexel and entered Saturday’s matchup on a minute restriction. The Howard transfer finished without scoring, missing all three of his shots, and his defensive effort was sorely missed throughout the game.
Transfer guard Matteo Picarelli had his best shooting game all season, earning a season-high 18 points, shooting 4-8 from three-point range.
The Owls will look to bounce back when they take on Ole Miss (4-0, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) at The Liacouras Center on Nov. 22 at 3:30 p.m.