Maybe Fran Dunphy is right about Temple being overrated.
Although the Owls have a signature win over then third-ranked Syracuse and came close to posting a road win at fourth-ranked Kansas, teams are judged by overall body of work.
For the most part Temple has struggled to beat — and on two occasions lost to — teams it was expected to blow out.
That second setback came Saturday afternoon in an 81-78 Atlantic 10 loss to St. Bonaventure at the Liacouras Center.
It was the first time the Owls (12-5, 2-2 A-10) lost to the last-place Bonnies (8-9, 1-3) since Jan. 16, 2002 (16 games), and the first time the Owls lost to the Bonnies in Philadelphia.
“I think maybe you are overrating us,” said Dunphy, the Temple coach whose team has lost three of its last five games. “We are not as good as maybe people think we are. Especially if we are going to shoot it at the percentage we had been shooting it, recently.
“And if we get open looks, we are not knocking them down, although, today had been a very good shooting day for us.”
The Owls shot 45 percent (28-for-61) from the field, including 35.3 percent (12-for-34) on three-pointers. Senior guard Khalif Wyatt finished with 31 points before fouling out on a charge with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left.
Reserve forward Jake O’Brien added 16 points, all in the first half. He and Wyatt combined to score Temple’s first 18 points. Reserve guard T.J. DiLeo (career highs with 11 points and four assists) and swingman Scootie Randall (10 points) were the Owls’ other double-figure scorers.
Yet, like in losses against Canisius and Xavier, the Owls were outhustled and struggled on the defensive end.
St. Bonaventure’s shot 61.1 percent (11 of 18) from three-pointers range, the best by a Temple opponent this season. Junior guard Matthew Wright finished with a team-high 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting, as all five Bonnie starters scored in double-figures.
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Wyatt responded to being asked why teams are outhustling the Owls. “We’ve just got to get better. I don’t know. Coach Dunph is a great coach. I’m sure he will get us better as the season goes on.”
Trailing by as many as 12 points, Temple pulled within one point (69-68) on Wyatt’s foul shots with 2:56 left. That was the closest the Owls got.
St. Bonaventure forward Demitrius Conger (15 points, nine rebounds) responded with a three-pointer before Wyatt fouled out on Temple’s next offensive possession.
Contact Keith Pompey at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @pompeysgridlock.