PHILADELPHIA– Many wondered how this Temple team would respond after an upset win against Villanova on Friday. Would it be seen as a springboard for their season, or would the Owls have a hangover after that game?
In the first 10 minutes of the first half, it looked like the former. In the first 12 minutes of the second half and overtime, it looked like the latter.
If not for a heroic 13-point 2nd half comeback from Temple (Mostly thanks to Damian Dunn‘s 14 second half points) to force this game into overtime, this would’ve been a blowout loss for Temple. Not what you want to see after an emotional win over a city rival.
Regardless, the Owls still lost the contest, 89-87 in Overtime against Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
It was a historic performance for Dunn, who dropped 38 points on an efficient 13/18 from the field and 7/9 from three. It was the most points scored by a Temple player since David Hawkins dropped 41 in 2004. Zach Hicks contributed with 20 points and six threes, looking like he snapped out of a slump.
It was all for nothing.
The story of the game was that Temple couldn’t get stops on a Vanderbilt team (Coached by former Sixer and 2-time NBA All-Star Jerry Stackhouse) who scored just 48 points in their last game, a home loss to Southern Miss. The Commodores nearly doubled that.
“This was a desperate team coming in and it seems like they wanted it more.” Temple Head Coach Aaron McKie said. “We didn’t do a good job of taking their strengths away.”
Missed switches, and a severe lack of defensive communication seems to be the culprit here, leading to a myriad of open shots for Vanderbilt.
“It wasn’t good enough and it cost us.” McKie said, about the lack of defensive communication. “Not to take away anything from those guys, I thought they played well, I thought they played with great energy and attitude and effort and we just didn’t execute on the defensive side.”
“Just out of sorts, why? I don’t know.” McKie said. “To start with, we don’t have talkers, it’s something that we’ve been working on everyday and we didn’t do a good job of it and it cost us.”
The game started out well for Temple, going up 22-11, but then the Owls rattled off 10 straight possessions without a score, which brought Vanderbilt back into the game.
“We started feeling good about ourselves.” McKie said. “I thought we did a good job establishing the game, Zach made some shots and we just got comfortable.”
Allowing 48 points in the paint surely didn’t help either.
“You can’t win games when they go 9/18 from three and score 48 points in the paint,” McKie said. “It’s hard to overcome, our activity wasn’t enough.”
“We talked about not allowing those guys to catch the ball inside, they were getting too much penetration inside on dump offs and making it easier for those big guys to score around the basket.” McKie added.
If this is the trajectory that Temple is going to be on for the rest of the season, just an absolute roller-coaster ride of a season (Losing to Vanderbilt and Wagner, beating Villanova), then Owls fans better buckle up.
But McKie wants it to be consistent success, and if it’s not consistent success, they might be looking at themselves come the end of the season.
“It can’t be one game on, one game off, one game on, one game off, it just can’t be that.” McKie said. “Come February and March we’re going to look back and start pointing to these games and these one game on, one game off sort of thing and it’s going to cost us big time.”