The good vibes of Temple's senior night were fleeting, not lasting beyond a pregame ceremony when Owls Dustin Salisbery and Dion Dacons walked out to halfcourt at the Liacouras Center with their families, getting hugs from their present coach and their former one.
John Chaney probably didn't mind that he was the former coach in that arrangement, the way the night played out. This season, Temple has had a few bad offensive nights and a lot of bad defensive nights. Last night, the Owls put it all together and fell to Dayton, 73-65.
"That was probably the worst it could have been," Dacons said after Temple scored just 21 points in the first half, a season low.
"We don't come out with energy, we're not a good team," Salisbery said after the Owls fell behind by 17 points in the second half.
"We stunk offensively off the bat," Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. "I think we were selfish offensively early on. It led to easy baskets for them. We were poor offensively and it cost us dearly."
For Temple (12-16 overall, 6-9 Atlantic Ten), defense has been a problem all along. At some point, Dayton figured out that heading straight for the hoop was pretty effective. The Flyers (17-11, 7-8) did not even make all their layups, just enough of them to keep a comfortable cushion before a late Temple rush fell short.
Dacons and Salisbery said it meant a lot to them that Chaney appeared last night. He had minor jaw surgery yesterday, so it was not a given that he would be able to make it.
"To be honest, it was a surprise Coach Chaney was here," Salisbery said. "We were all hoping he would be here. I'm glad he came. He recruited me. Both these guys, I love them like fathers."
Dunphy always has been consistent about senior night and what the emotions of the night produce.
"I hate senior night," Dunphy said. "I don't know who made it. I don't think we can blame this on Hallmark. But somebody decided this was a good idea. It's not a very good idea. It's a lot of pressure on a lot of kids. That's by no means an excuse for how we played."
With one more win (they play Saturday at Fordham), the Owls could play in the noon game in the Atlantic Ten tournament, the game between the No. 8 and 9 seeds. If the Owls lose at Fordham, the likeliest landing spot is a No. 11 seed, which would put them in the last game of the night Wednesday in Atlantic City. A victory could put them in the 8-9 game or have them as a No. 10 seed.
After winning only one road game this season, at St. Bonaventure, Dayton had a 31-21 halftime lead after Temple failed to get a field goal until its tenth possession of the game. The Owls had 10 turnovers by halftime, with Salisbery's two field goals providing the most offense.
Dacons said that if everyone plays that lackadaisical again offensively, "what happened tonight is going to happen again." He called it "not a surprise at all."
Mark Tyndale led Temple with 19 points. Norman Plummer scored 20 for the winners.