Owls struggle against pressure defense

Temple picked the wrong time to suffer from a severe case of the sloppy blues.

During key second-half stretches, the Owls struggled to make field goals and consecutive foul shots, and kept turning over the ball.

Taking full advantage, the Villanova Wildcats beat Temple, 78-74, Thursday night at the Pavilion. The victory enabled the eighth-ranked Wildcats (11-1, 4-0 Big Five) to capture the Big Five title.

While Villanova celebrated, members of the No. 25 Owls (9-3, 0-1) sat in their locker room in silence. Failing to convert against the Wildcats' pressure defense was foremost on their minds.

"You have to give them credit," junior guard Ramone Moore said of Villanova. "But at the same time, we got to do a good job of handling that pressure. It was shots that we missed that we should have made.

"If you look at the shots that we could have made down the stretch, I think it could have been a different outcome."

The Owls shot 40.7 percent in a game that snapped their six-game winning streak. However, they opened the second half by missing 9 of 11 field-goal attempts.

Then, after taking a 60-57 lead with 9 minutes, 16 seconds remaining, the Owls missed their next eight shots en route to shooting 3 of 13 the rest of the way.

Moore was arguably the Owl who struggled most.

The Southern High product finished with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting.

Early on, however, he looked like an NBA prospect, scoring 13 points while making his first four field goals. Cooling off, Moore missed 12 consecutive shots before his layup with 1:10 left pulled Temple within 73-68.

"They didn't guard me any differently in the second half," he said of the Wildcats. "I was getting open shots. I just wasn't knocking them down.

"I had a couple of drives where I missed, and that changed the game."

Temple also shot just 66.7 percent (20 of 30) from the foul line and committed 13 costly turnovers.

"We need to shoot better fouls, no question about that," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said.

But the coach gave credit to Villanova for his team's shooting woes.

"I think they toughened up defensively," he said. "Certainly toward the end, they didn't allow us to get any kind of dribble penetration. I think we made some poor decisions with the ball.

"But for the most part, I think their defense was very, very good at the end."

 


 

Chat about Temple men's basketball with Inquirer beat reporter Keith Pompey on Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. at www.philly.com/sports.


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @pompeygridlock