Heartbreaker
This story originally published on OwlsDaily.com

Senior Writer
Posted Feb 15, 2013


One staple of Fran Dunphy’s tenure as Temple men’s basketball coach is the Owls have rarely been upset by teams they were expected to beat handily. Temple has almost always taken care of business in the regular season under Dunphy, now in his seventh season as coach. But this season has been different and on Thursday, the Owls suffered a loss almost no one saw coming for the third time.

One staple of Fran Dunphy’s tenure as Temple men’s basketball coach is the Owls have rarely been upset by teams they were expected to beat handily.

Temple has almost always taken care of business – at least in the regular season – under Dunphy, now in his seventh season as coach.

But this season has been different and on Thursday night, the Owls suffered a loss almost no one saw coming for the third time. Duquesne, winless in the Atlantic 10 and in 2013, came to the Liacouras Center and stunned the Owls, 84-83, on a pair of free throws by Derrick Coulter with two seconds to play.

Earlier this season, Temple lost to Canisius and St. Bonaventure – both of those defeats also came at the Liacouras Center, a place where just a few years ago the Owls went through the entire season without a loss.

It was just this past Saturday when Dayton missed a pair of free throws with just over a second left as the Owls escaped with a one-point win. In fact, Thursday’s loss was the fourth straight one-point game for Temple, which lost at St. Joe’s and defeated Charlotte by the slightest of margins.

Temple fell to 16-8 overall and 5-5 in the A-10 loss, a setback which was a killer for its NCAA Tournament chances as well as its seeding for the conference tournament. The Owls have tough games coming up against Massachusetts and La Salle, but then again, what constitutes an easy game when they can’t beat the Dukes (8-16, 1-9)?

Khalif Wyatt almost rescued the Owls, once again producing a game that was one of the best in his career. He finished with a career-high 35 points – including a three-point play with seven seconds left that gave Temple the lead – and added six points, six rebounds and six assists.

“All (losses) are tough,” said Wyatt. “We hit some shots, made some stops, couldn’t sustain the energy.”

The Owls allowed Duquesne to shoot 63 pecent in the first half and then couldn’t close the deal when they rallied to take an eight-point second half lead against a young Duke team.

Dalton Pepper had his best game as an Owl, scoring 13 points and contributing to the late comeback, but he was called for the foul with two seconds to play and missed a shot at the buzzer that would have given Temple the win.

“We have presented ourselves with a very difficult challenge as we move forward,” said Dunphy. “We thought we could be good this year, I didn’t think we could be great. It turned out to be prophetic, but at this point we’re too inconsistent to be called good.”

Before the game, the Owls were sitting on the bubble of the NCAA Tournament. Nothing bursts a bubble more than a home loss to a team that had lost 11 straight.

“I hope (we feel the pressure),” said Dunphy. “When your back’s against the wall, you respond.”


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