NEW YORK — Temple’s identity through nine games was playing strong defense. That identity was stripped away Tuesday night at the Barclays Center. The Owls’ hot-shooting offense gave them a chance, but it wasn’t enough in a 78-77 loss to Miami.
Temple (7-3) allowed a season-high 39 points in the first half to Miami (also 7-3), but they only trailed by one at the break. The Owls’ offense was forced to step up, and they did by making timely shots in the second half.
Late in the second half, Miami switched to a zone defense and began to bother the Owls’ offense. But again, this wasn’t the same Owls. Temple refused to remain stagnant offensively and knocked down two big threes in the final minute.
With the Owls trailing 76-74, De’Vondre Perry stood wide-open in the corner and calmly knocked down a three with 34 seconds left to give the Owls a one-point lead. But he was not to be the hero. He missed the front end of a one-and-one with 16 seconds left, and with 4 seconds left, Nate Pierre-Louis was frozen in the air by Miami guard Chris Lykes and fouled him. Lykes knocked down both free throws to give the Hurricanes the lead, and Quinton Rose missed a three-pointer as Miami escaped with the win.
Temple had its best three-point shooting night of the season. Five players made threes as the Owls finished 13-for-34.
Rose had 14 points and Perry scored 18 off the bench to lead the way. The Owls’ bench outscored the Hurricanes’, 36-19. Four Owls were in double figures.
Lykes proved to be a handful, with 17 points and six assists. Miami’s 78 points were the most the Owls have allowed this season. They are 0-2 when allowing more than 70 points.
“Throughout my journey, it’s been [about] working on staying consistent., and doing all the little things well," Perry said.
“You want your team to be poised in those difficult times out on the floor," Owls coach Aaron McKie said. "Hopefully as we’re continuing to grow as a team and I’m growing as a coach, that can become our identity when we get in tough games.
“I think we’re taking the right steps. This one is going to sting for a while, but we have to flush this, study it, and get ready for a game that we have Saturday."
Temple can play in different ways. The Owls have shown that they can turn the game into a defensive struggle, but Tuesday they showed they can compete with their offense.
Perry deserves more minutes. His ability to stretch the court around guards and forwards that primarily thrive as slashers is a big boost offensively. He was 9-for-21 from three entering the game, but his four threes in six attempts showcased his ability to do it at a consistent level.