In the second game of the Gotham Classic, the Temple Owls (8-2) had trouble finding any positives in a 72-62 loss to the Canisius Golden Griffins (8-2).
Guard Khalif Wyatt led the Owls with 17 points, but had another rough shooting night, going 6-of-16 from the field (37.5 percent) and 0-of-6 from three-point range. Forward Scootie Randall also didn’t have too much going for him from beyond the arc, going 1-of-12 (8.3 percent) Forward Jake O’Brien chipped in 14 points, nine of those points coming from three.
“I can’t say it’s overly surprising, the way we’ve been playing,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. ”We’ve been escaping with some wins, but we haven’t been playing well. I thought we played a decent first half and if we could have repeated that in the second half, I would’ve obviously felt better.”
The three-point shooting woes continued for the Owls. Following their 5-of-20 performance in the Gotham Classic opener against Alcorn State, Temple shot a poor 4-of-28 (14.2 percent) from the floor. It was the 5th time that they’ve shot below 25 percent from beyond that arc this season, doing so against Rice (15.3 percent), Buffalo (21.4), Towson (23.5) and Alcorn State.
“We’ve got some good jump shooters that have a lot of confidence,” Wyatt said. “Everybody loves the shot if it’s going in and everybody hates it if it isn’t, so we just have to do what we do well and the shots will start to fall, then we’ll be fine.”
“You’re going to take what the defense gives you, but would I like us to drive it to the rim and get fouled and score layups? Yeah, I’d certainly like to do that,” Dunphy added. “I’m not sure how many opportunities we had, but we need to be a better basketball team, share a little bit more and that’s what we’ll work on over the next couple of days.”
It was the trio of guards of that carried Canisius. Harold Washington, Isaac Sosa and Billy Baron (son of Golden Griffin coach Jim Baron) kept Canisius close in the first half, and ultimately took the lead in the second, as the three scored a combined 36 points on 15-of-36 shooting (41.7 percent). Before Wednesday night’s game, the guards had combined for an average of 41.8 points.
The Owls had a tough time defending against the Golden Griffins’ transition offense, as Canisius went 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) from deep.
“We knew coming into the game that that’s their game plan, to get out in transition and hit threes,” Owls guard Will Cummings said. ”They made it difficult for us to find all the shooters because all of their guards have the ability to knock down shots. That’s what they did tonight.”
Canisius had trailed throughout most of the first half, but battled back and used a 13-0 run early in the second half to take a 43-42 lead. O’Brien took it upon himself to take the lead back, hitting another three-pointer, his third of the night.
After O’Brien’s three, it was a game of runs that decided the outcome.
For the next two minutes, the Golden Griffins hit a barrage of threes, hitting four straight to take a six point lead over the Owls with eight minutes left in the second half. Canisius guard Reggie Groves, who finished the night with 12 points, hit three of the four from deep.
Temple responded with a 7-0 run of their own, retaking the lead with less than six minutes to play. Baron then hit two threes in a minute to give the Golden Griffins a four-point lead.
“They made that run, we made our run and took the lead back, but we didn’t make enough shots down the stretch,” Wyatt said. “They hit some big shots, got some loose balls, I just give a lot of credit to them.”
Canisius would hold onto the lead as Temple missed five straight three-pointers to end the game, another showing of poor shooting from long range.
Temple finishes off their Gotham Classic appearance with a game against Syracuse at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, December 22nd. The Orange are 10-0 and ranked third in the nation.