Temple Owls falter down the stretch against UConn

Feb 19, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Jalen Adams (2) celebrates after a victory against the Temple Owls at Liacouras Center. UConn won 64-63. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Jalen Adams (2) celebrates after a victory against the Temple Owls at Liacouras Center. UConn won 64-63. Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The Temple Owls welcomed the red-hot Huskies from the University of Connecticut to North Philadelphia in a conference clash.

The Temple Owls [14-14, 5-10 AAC] were unable to hold off the Huskies [14-12, 9-5 AAC] as they lost 64-63 on a last second drive. This one hurts because it was one of the best performances for the Owls this season as they were led by Daniel Dingle (17 points, six rebounds, six assists), who was the first guy to lead the Owls in scoring, assists, and rebounds since Khalif Wyatt in 2013. Pretty good company for the senior leader. But it wasn’t enough as UConn torched the defense in the second half to nab their fourth straight win.

The Temple Owls got off to a quick start in this one with a quick jumper by Daniel Dingle but it was his early steal that would set the tone of the first half. The Owls were able to force the Huskies into nine turnovers in the half and seven were via the steal. Quinton Rose led the way on that front with three steals in the half but active hands and awareness of passing lanes got the Owls into a good position in this one.

Couple that with a 5-9 line from behind the arc and it should be no surprise that the Temple Owls ended the first half with a 35-29 lead thanks to a 7-0 run. The Owls overcame a tough shooting half from Rose and Obi Enechionyia through their defense which was able to hold the Huskies to a 40 percent clip from the field in the half. More importantly, the Huskies were 3-10 from three in the half as Temple held their big three of Jalen Adams, Rodney Purvis, and Christian Vital to a 2-9 line.

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Coming into this game, those three were shooting the three at a 58 percent clip during the current winning streak for the Huskies. It’s tough to understand why the Temple Owls are able to do this against more competitive opposition then fall flat against ECU but when the defense is performing, the Owls are hard to beat. They live and die by the three but it’s easier to live with questionable shot selection when you know that you can get stops on the defensive end.

In the second half, the Huskies were able to find their feet as some of their threes began to fall but the Temple Owls were already rolling at that point and were able to handle most of them. That is until Damien Moore was taken out of the game in favor of Enechionyia. This is while Moore was in the midst of his best game this season scoring 11 points on a 5-5 shooting line. Prior to that point, Enechionyia had only played in 11 minutes during the entire game.

He was inserted for the final nine minutes of the game and an implosion ensued. Christian Vital keyed a six-point run for the Huskies to draw them within one and it all went downhill from there. Rodney Purvis and Rose answered each other with three-pointers for each team but a foul by Rose gave UConn the chance to draw within one. Then in the waning seconds, after Temple used their fouls to give, it was ended by Jalen Adams with a drive to the hoop.

Here’s a look at the final shot for the Huskies:

It stings but there are positives for the Temple Owls to take from this one most notably would be the performance when their new-look starting five of Rose, Alston, Dingle, Enechionyia, and Moore was on the court. It will b a different challenge against Tako Fall and the UCF Knights on Wednesday but it is one that this team will be up for.

Dingle discussed that this team needs a sense of urgency saying,

"“I talked to the guys about having that sense of urgency. It takes a while, for me, time is running out and we’ve gotta get there as a whole. I say that in the huddle, we’ve gotta get there. This window, I remember when I was a freshman and now I’m in my fifth year and time isn’t gonna wait. Every game we’ve gotta go and play like it’s our last.”"

He’s right because the Owls have three games left against UCF, Tulane, and USF. Two of the three are at home and they’re all winnable clashes to prepare this team for the American Athletic Conference tournament.

Next: Owls Set To Take On UConn On National TV

They want to make a run and shock the world but losses like this make it tough to envision that run happening. With three freshmen playing huge minutes and Trey Lowe returning next season, any postseason success will be important to the team moving forward.