Turnovers plague Owls in loss to USF

The loss dropped Temple to 3-10 in conference play.

Sophomore guard Khalif Battle attempts to make a basket during the Owls' game against the University of South Florida at the Liacouras Center on Feb. 21. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Following several schedule adjustments, Temple University men’s basketball took the floor Sunday afternoon looking to snap its five-game losing streak against the South Florida Bulls.

But the Owls (4-10, 3-10 The American Athletic Conference) would have no such luck, falling to South Florida (8-8, 4-6 The American) 83-76 due to poor shooting and turnovers. The Bulls put forth a balanced offensive effort that featured heavy ball movement.

Because of their passing, the Bulls were able to put together an efficient offensive performance with seven players scoring at least seven points. Their leading scorer, junior guard Xavier Castaneda, scored 18 points.

“We’ve got to keep him out of the paint,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “He changes the pace for them.”

Scoring near the basket was key to USF’s offense, McKie added.

“Today was one of those days they wanted to go inside,” he said. “That can help take away from mistakes.”

Owls sophomore guard Khalif Battle led the charge offensively for the Owls, scoring a career-high 32 points in the contest. Battle’s scoring was spread out, as he chipped in 13 points in the first half and 19 in the second half. Battle also corralled 10 rebounds and dished out five assists.

“Coach keeps telling me to be aggressive,” Battle said. “So that’s what I’m going to do.

Battle scored at all three levels, with 12 of his points coming from beyond the arc, 10 at the free throw line and 10 from two-point range.

For the rest of the Owls, offense came at a premium. The remainder of the team made just 46.4 percent of their field goal attempts, with just five players other than Battle scoring in the game.

“I’m going to go back and watch the film to see what we could have done to get the team involved offensively,” Battle said.

The Owls trailed for most of the second half but pulled the game within four points with 30 seconds remaining after freshman forward Nick Jourdain dunked the ball off an assist from Battle. 

Thanks to free throws made by USF, the Owls couldn’t cut the Bulls’ lead down any further. 

Turnovers were a major factor in the Owls’ loss, as they finished the contest with 17 turnovers, including 11 in the first half.  

“It’s been hurting us,” McKie said. “We’ve got to keep getting better and working at those things.”

Temple’s last win came on Jan. 26 against Tulsa.

The Owls will be back in action Wednesday at 7 p.m. as they head to South Florida for a rematch against the Bulls.

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