For once, it was defense that let the Owls down.
Despite the familiarity of the Temple-Villanova Big Five matchup at the Pavillion on Tuesday night, Owl defenders played surprised for much of the game, allowing Wildcat sharpshooters Jermaine Medley and Gary Buchanan to tee off for 11 threes between them.
The Villanova outside shooting put Temple down early, and eventually wore the Owls out to the tune of a 69-62 Wildcat victory.
“It’s a matter of your kids leaving the dressing room knowing the two guys out there shooting the threes,” Chaney said. “‘Who was that masked man? Our kids find it very difficult to recognize that here’s a guy who come into your movie house and you say, ‘Come on down front, we’ve got some popcorn for you.’
“That’s the truth. Outside of Quincy (Wadley) there’s not one guard on our team that’s a good defensive player. Not one.”
Wadley left the game late in the first half with an injury to his left shoulder and did not return. That left the Temple defense severely impaired and point guard Lynn Greer without the comfort of his accustomed backcourt-mate.
His play as Temple’s on-court general suffered. He handled the ball for much of the second half, often straying from the system toward ill-advised shots.
“We set up a play for him to come off of Kevin,” Chaney said. “He’s perfectly free. But then nstead of coming up and pulling up, which he can do extremely well, he goes two more dribbles in and there’s a seven-footer standing there like this (lifts his hand above his head), like the Lord. And Lynn’s got big eyes, I don’t know why he didn’t see this guy; he’s a whole man standing there.”
After leading 35-25 at the half, Villanova stretched the lead to 12 points with 14 minutes left in the game. Over the next several minutes, Temple went on a 16-6 run that tied the game.
The Owls took their first lead of the game, 59-56, with 5:24 remaining when junior forward Alex Wesby hit a three-pointer. But from there, the game simply slipped away.
While the Wildcats stayed patient and waited for good shots, Temple lost its edge. A three-pointer by freshman David Hawkins with 46 seconds left and the game all but decided was the only Temple hoop of the last five minutes of play.
“When you come back from a big deficit like that, it’s difficult to sustain it,” Chaney said. “When you feed off your own fuel, when you feed off of scoring baskets, it’s the wrong fuel that you’re putting in your tank.”
Though the Temple offense’s sputtering finish finally doomed the Owls, it was the uncharacteristically porous defense that lost the game.
“There wasn’t enough pressure. We were just too soft,” Chaney said. “We went to a triangle and two, we went to a 2-3, we went to traps in the corner, we went to my rover defense and none of it worked because we were too soft.”
With the win, Villanova improved to 4-1 on the season. The loss was Temple’s fourth in a row, dropping the Owls record to an even 4-4.
“I don’t know where we’re going to end up with this ballclub,” Chaney said, “but we’re a long ways away from being a good team.
An Errant Owl
Before the game, it was announced that Temple’s Carlton Aaron, a freshman power forward out of Bronx, N.Y., has been suspended indefinitely from the team.
The suspension stems from an undisclosed violation of team rules and extends to all practices as well as games.
Aaron’s indefinite absence further weakens what was already suspect depth in the Owls’ frontcourt.