Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
Khalif Wyatt cannot do it all for Temple, though he tried on Saturday afternoon. The team leader in scoring did just that against St. Bonaventure, but his efforts were not enough to pull off a comeback against the Bonnies, as the Owls fell 81-78
The senior had 31 points three assists and a steal for the Owls, and played solid defense down the stretch of the game. He was 10-for-13 from the field, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Wyatt rattled off five straight points for Temple to cut the St. Bonaventure lead to 69-68 with less than three minutes remaining. A Demitrius Conger shot from beyond the arc pushed the lead back to four.
On the very next Temple possession, Wyatt drove to the basket, but picked up an offensive foul, and fouled out of the game. Wyatt fell just two points shy of his career high, which he set earlier in the season in the Owls upset of Syracuse.
“I thought it was a blocking foul. It was a big play in the game, a big call. It didn’t go my way,” Wyatt said of his fifth foul.
St. Bonaventure (8-9, 1-3 A10) was led by junior guard Matthew Wright, who had a career high 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range. His previous career high was 18 against George Washington on January 22, 2011. He was joined by Conger, who added 15 points for the Bonnies, and played every minute of the game.
Temple (12-5, 2-2 A10) did not shoot the ball well from beyond the arc. They only converted on 12 of their 34 attempts on the day (35 percent). St. Bonaventure, on the other hand, had an outstanding day from distance. They were 11-of-18 from deep, good for 61 percent.
Temples defense was not up to their normal standards against the Bonnies. The Owls allowed St. Bonaventure to shoot 49.1 percent (27-for-55) from the field. The Bonnies shot 52 percent in the second half. Temple did not have a poor shooting day, as they shot 45.9 percent (28-for-61) from the floor.
“Our problem today was defensively,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “We lost a couple of their shooters early. I thought they set the tone early, and we were coming from behind the whole game.”
“We needed better effort defensively,” Dunphy added. “Smarter effort defensively as well. We crashed into a couple screen, we knew the screens were coming. You got to get low, get around, get underneath of their hips and we did not do that a couple of times.”
St. Bonaventure started the game on a 10-2 run that spanned the opening four minutes. Wright led the opening charge with a pair of shots from beyond the arc. He finished the half as the leading scorer for the Bonnies, adding 13 points in 17 minutes of action. He was 3-for-3 from distance. The Bonnies led the Owls 40-36 after 20 minutes of action at the Liacouras Center.
“I thought they played great,” Dunphy said. “I think St. Bonaventure was ready to go right from the start. They played great. They shot the ball extremely well. Going into the game they were 0-3 in the league. Best 0-3 in anybody’s league in America I was saying to our guys. I think they had every opportunity in a couple of games to win games. It is pretty much the same group they had last year that won our league tournament without a very good player, obviously, but really solid veteran guys.”
The tandem of Jake O’Brien and Wyatt combined to score 26 of the Owls 36 first half points. O’Brien eclipsed his season high of 15 points by dumping in 16 in the first half alone. He was 6-for-8 from the field, including 4-for-6 from three. Wyatt had 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting, but played just 12 minutes due to foul trouble.
“I was able to knock down a few shots early. My teammates did a good job of setting me up,” O’Brien said of his big first half.
O’Brien was nowhere to be found in the second half. He was unsuccessful on all his field goal attempts, and failed to score in the second 20 minutes. Scootie Randall was the only other Owl in double figures, as he added 10 points for the Owls.
“The one shot he took at the foul line versus the zone was not a shot, I’m not sure what it was,” Dunphy said of O’Brien’s second half. “He was not the same guy in the second half. But we have to manage that a little bit better. I need to do a better job on that. The other part of it is if you are sitting in St. Bonaventure’s locker room at halftime aren’t you saying we are not going to let O’Brien get any shots? So it’s a little bit of each.”
As a team, the Owls shot the ball well from the field in the first half. They went 13-for-28 overall, good for 46.4 percent. They were 7-of-17 from beyond the arc, with four of them coming from O’Brien.
St. Bonaventure also had a hot shooting first half, especially from downtown. They were 6-for-10 from beyond the arc, half of which came from the junior guard, Wright. They were slightly more efficient from the field than Temple, going 14-for-30 (46.7 percent). Neither team missed a free throw in the first half.
T.J DiLeo had a career high in both points and assists on Saturday afternoon. He managed 31 minutes, adding 11 points and 4 assists in the loss. He was 4-for-11 from the field, and 3-for-9 from beyond the arc.
Temple returns to action Wednesday, January 23 in a Big 5 match-up with Penn. The Owls are 1-0 in the Big 5, with their only game coming against Villanova, which they won 76-61. Tip is set for 7 p.m. at the Liacouras Center.