Tough loss to Villanova reflects Temple men’s basketball’s ‘Achilles heel’

The Assistant Sports Editor argues Temple’s post-season mediocrity makes it difficult to attract high-level recruits.

Senior guard Quinton Rose attempts to score during the Owls’ 76-56 loss against Villanova at the Liacouras Center on Sunday. | J.P. OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

After going up 30-26 at halftime, it looked like Temple University men’s basketball would play a competitive game against Villanova.

But the second half came. The Wildcats outscored the Owls 50-26, and the talent difference between the two teams popped off the court.

Villanova (19-6, 8-4 The Big East) opened the floodgates in the first six minutes of the second half, outscoring Temple (13-12, 5-7 The American Athletic Conference) 20-2 to go up 46-32 en route to a 76-56 win on Sunday.

The Wildcats created this separation in the second half due to its 13 three-pointers hit on 21 attempts. In Sunday’s game, Temple’s play proved it does not have complementary scorers like Villanova does. As a team, Temple only made two three-pointers on 16 attempts. That kind of play does not win games, certainly not against the 12th ranked team in the country. 

While five players finished with nine points or more for Villanova, Temple only had two: senior guard Quinton Rose and junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis. 

Rose scored 22 points, almost half of Temple’s overall points, and Pierre-Louis finished with 16 points. No other player scored more than seven points. In the first half, Rose scored 14 of Temple’s 30 points.

“It has been a revolving door for us,” coach Aaron McKie said. “You would hope you would get more consistency from guys getting confidence. It has really been our Achilles heel.”

Villanova showed its shooting depth Sunday — something Temple doesn’t have. 

Wildcats junior guard Collin Gillespie converted on seven threes to finish with a game-leading 29 points. He scored 15 of Villanova’s 26 points in the first half and scored 14 points in the second half. 

Wildcats freshman forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl hit two three-pointers and scored eight points in the second half, despite receiving two early fouls and sitting out the rest of the first half. 

Junior forward Jermaine Samuels converted on a pair of three-pointers and finished with 11 points in the second half. 

Sophomore forward Saddiq Bey and freshman guard Justin Moore each contributed nine points. Moore scored all of his points from beyond the arc in the second half.

“Normally, I just go in there to score first,” Gillespie said. “Then, our other guys are coming off the ball. They do a really good job of coming off the ball.”

Temple outscored Villanova 32-16 in the paint. Despite this, Temple failed to expose this matchup by continuing to shoot threes instead of driving inside.

Villanova can appeal to more talented recruits while Temple will continue to struggle to rebuild the program if this play continues. Since 2017, Villanova has landed three five-star recruits and six four-star recruits, while Temple has signed no five-star recruits and four four-star recruits.

That trend will likely continue in years to come because Villanova develops players much better under coach Jay Wright, who has coached the team since 2001. On the other hand, Temple has not made any progress in the past two decades. Since the Owls’ 2001 Elite Eight appearance, they have only won two NCAA Tournament games.

With Sunday’s win, Villanova has won six of the last seven Big 5 titles and has tied Temple for the most Big 5 titles in history with 27.

People like to complain Villanova is not a Philadelphia school. By winning two of the last four NCAA Championships, Villanova has done more for Philadelphia basketball than Temple has in recent years, as Sunday’s game showed.

1 Comment

  1. Alex, I appreciate you pointing out Nova’s recruiting success over Temple especially since Coach John Chaney’s departure in 2006. We’ve had opportunities at some of the same players recruited by Nova & PSU but seem to lose out on 4 & 5 star talent consistently. Losing the recruiting battle for the son of a Temple Hall of Fame player in Jaylen Brunson significantly impacted both programs leading to 2 national championships for Nova while conversely driving Temple into mediocrity. Aaron McKie will change this & we will improve our recruiting win rate with higher level talent. Also would help if the ACC conference expands to include Temple & large Philly media market.

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