Temple tumbles at Rhode Island

KINGSTON, R.I. - For a team that has played just three nonconference home games, Temple certainly did not look comfortable hitting the road in a 67-59 loss to Rhode Island tonight at the Ryan Center.

The Owls sank just 9 of 28 second-half shots and had too many first-half defensive lapses, spelling doom against the Atlantic Ten Conference's best-shooting squad.

In a game between two teams on the fringe of the early NCAA tournament picture, the Rams successfully defended their home court thanks to 17 points from senior forward Kahiem Seawright and a bunch of help from their bench.

Temple's record dropped to 11-8 and 3-2 in conference play, while Rhode Island improved to 14-7 and 3-3.

In a wild second half, the Owls fell behind by double digits on multiple occasions, then staged a 10-0 run to tie the score at 53.

But the Rams responded with a 10-3 stretch, holding Temple to one field goal in the last nine minutes.

With no one except Dionte Christmas scoring consistently for the Owls, there would be no last-minute comeback for coach Fran Dunphy's squad. Even Christmas missed two of three free throws after getting fouled on a late three-point attempt. He finished with 27 points before fouling out in the last minute.

Sophomore forward Lavoy Allen was also plagued by foul trouble and was not productive when on the floor. He fouled out after collecting five points and three rebounds.

Playing without sophomore forward Craig Williams, sidelined by an ankle injury, the Owls still got off to their typical hot start, which has been the case in every one of their games since Williams joined the starting lineup in early January.

Sergio Olmos returned to the starting five and had a basket and an assist in the first two minutes. With Christmas hitting his first four three-point attempts, Temple was off and running.

But Rhode Island was running, too, despite the absence of No. 2 scorer Keith Cothran, out with a knee injury. The Rams lost another weapon when Lamonte Ulmer committed his second foul seven minutes into the game.

But the numbers painted a troublesome picture for the Owls. Twelve minutes into the game, they had converted 8 of 10 shots but were trailing by 25-22.

The Owls did a nice job on Rhode Island's top scorer, Jimmy Baron, limiting him to five points in the first half. But the bench came through for Baron's father, URI coach Jim Baron. Connecticut transfer Ben Eaves replaced Ulmer and hit consecutive three-pointers; he had a team-high nine points at the break.

The Owls opened the second half with consecutive turnovers and trailed by 13, at 41-28, before they started their comeback.