SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Sure, the game plan went out the door pretty quickly and it never looked like Temple would be able to recover.
That scheme was aimed at stopping 7-foot Utah center Jakob Poeltl, who torched the Owls for 32 points and 11 rebounds. Yet in the end, it was 5-10 guard Brandon Taylor who sank Temple.
Taylor's desperation baseline jumper with 28.4 seconds left broke a tie and Poeltl hit four free throws in the final 4.6 seconds to deliver No. 16 Utah a 74-68 victory in the third-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Sunday at Roberto Clemente Coliseum.
The Owls erased a 14-point second-half deficit and twice took the lead in the final 3:06 - after forward Jaylen Bond had fouled out with 4:30 to go. Bond entered the game averaging 16 points, but his defensive assignment on Poeltl got him in early foul trouble and he played only 13 minutes, scoring four points.
The Owls (1-3) committed only six turnovers in the game but fouled 27 times, sending the No. 16 Utes (4-1) to the free-throw line 34 times. The Owls were 6-for-9 from the line.
"We fouled too much, there was no question about that," coach Fran Dunphy said. "But the disparity was what it was. You can say that everybody can see how many foul shots they shot and that we shot. Those things will happen sometimes in a game. We're not going to talk about that too much. When we did foul, we fouled poorly. We need to be in better positioning."
Down by 10 midway through the second half, Temple started pressing and got a quick 5-0 run. The Owls kept chipping away and took a 64-63 lead with 3:10 left on a three-pointer by freshman guard Levan Shawn Alston after junior Daniel Dingle found him open.
"Everything comes out of the flow of the offense," Alston said. "Dan made a good drive and kick, and I was open."
Temple again scratched back to take another lead when freshman Trey Lowe made a baseline cut and Dingle found him with a bounce pass for a dunk to give Temple a 66-65 lead.
"I'm grateful we're where we are, but we need to finish games out better than we have been," Dunphy said. "The way we finished the game with as many young kids in the game - we had two freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors in the game that really did a good job for us late. We have some seniors that need to step up more."
Presumably that includes Bond, who spent the evening with a look of exasperation has his foul total climbed. He played only five minutes in the second half.
"We have a chance to be pretty good, but we need to pay attention to some details," Dunphy said. "We can't have Jaylen Bond playing 13 minutes against a team like this, it doesn't work. We need to do a better job of defensive rebounding."
With the game tied at 68 after a layup by Dingle, Utah was forced to scramble for a shot. Pushed into the corner, Taylor put up a shot over Alston with a second left on the shot clock and the ball found its way into the hoop.
"I started picking him up early and the shot clock went down," Alston said. "I switched with Josh Brown and I switched back onto (Taylor). He was falling away in the corner - it was an unbelievable shot. I almost tipped it, but it went in."
Dunphy was incredulous himself as he calculated the Owls' next possession.
"Taylor made an unbelievable shot at the end of the game," Dunphy said. "If we get that rebound, I had already decided we weren't going to call timeout, because a timeout would have let them set their defense up. We would have gotten the last shot and who knows where we go with that? But he made the shot."