Heading into Wednesday night’s American Athletic Conference matchup against Connecticut, Temple had been getting outrebounded by more than 50 rebounds. The Owls’ rebound margin increased to an even larger deficit at Gampel Pavilion, where the hometown Huskies grabbed nine more boards total than Temple.
But the rebounding disparity was just one of the many issues in the paint for the Owls (10-8, 1-4 The American) in their 73-59 loss.
A layup from junior forward Obi Enechionyia at the 10 minute, seven second mark of the second half made the score 53-46, but that was the closest the Owls came for the rest of the game. Enechionyia scored just seven points on 3-of-17 shooting from the field and 1-of-10 from three-point land.
Throughout the first half, Connecticut continually looked to exploit Temple’s low-post defense by using frontcourt senior starters Kentan Facey and Amida Brimah in several offensive sets. Whether it was through backdoor screen plays or low-block isolations, the Huskies’ bigs seemingly scored whenever they wanted to down low. In the first 20 minutes, Brimah had six points and Facey scored 11. The Huskies outscored Temple 42-20 in the paint in the game.
“Our defense wasn’t any good,” Dunphy said. “We were allowing [Jalen] Adams to get downhill too many times, Brimah had a couple of big baskets on us and I thought Facey was really good tonight.”
Temple’s defense allowed Facey to score 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting and collect 10 rebounds. Brimah scored 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Sophomore guard Jalen Adams had a double-double with 11 points and 12 assists.
The close-to-the-basket offense for the Huskies resulted in efficient numbers, as they ended the first half shooting 55.6 percent as a team. But Connecticut’s low-post presence was not only on the offensive end.
Brimah had just as many points as he did blocks by the end of the first half, and the defensive effort at the rim left Temple offensively flustered. The Owls only made 11 of their 34 first half shot attempts, shooting at a 32.4 percent clip heading into halftime. Brimah’s rim protection forced the Owls to take perimeter jump shots. The Owls only made 1-of-4 free throws in the first half.
A 3-pointer by redshirt-senior Daniel Dingle at the halftime buzzer made the score 39-28 to keep the Owls within reach.
The second half began just as the first half did, with another alley-oop pick play to Brimah. With 18, minutes 29 seconds left to play, the Owls fell behind by 17 points, and Temple’s issues in the paint started to make a comeback less and less likely.
With the Owls struggling around the rim, they looked to get things going on the outside more often in the second half. Temple sparked a run with a made three from freshman guard Alani Moore II. Following the Moore triple, sophomore center Ernest Aflakpui scored on a layup, which led to a defensive stop for Temple and then a 3-pointer for Enechionyia. The 8-0 run cut the Connecticut lead back to single digits, but every time Temple made a run, the Huskies would respond with a basket in the paint.
Three Owls ended the contest in double figures. Sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. scored 13 points and Dingle and senior forward Mark Williams each dropped 10 points. The 10-point performance from Williams was his second consecutive game in double digits.
“Mark’s last two games have been terrific,” Dunphy said after the loss. “He made a huge three in the second half that got us to seven, but we needed to get a stop and we didn’t.”
Temple continues its conference schedule on Saturday at home against Tulsa.
Austin Ampeloquio can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @AustinPaulAmp. Follow The Temple News on Twitter @TheTempleNews and @TTNSports.