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  • Writer's pictureHunter Metnick

Khalif Battles career night isn’t enough as Owls lose sixth straight to USF

(PHILADELPHIA, PA) With leading scorer and playmaker Damian Dunn out again with a knee injury, Khalif Battle gets inserted into the starting lineup and has a career night with 32 points, ten rebounds and five assists. Once again, turnovers and a first half deficit come back to bite the Owls, as they lose another conference game 83 - 76.

Starting in the first half, it looked to be a close back and forth game. Both teams were missing their shots, yet Temple just seemed to look very careless with the ball. The Owls finished with 17 turnovers on the game, and 11 of them came in the first half.

Going along with the turnovers, from 6:30 remaining to 1:27 in the first half, Temple did not put the ball in the basket once. This allowed the Bulls to go from a four point lead to 12, and this seemed to be too big of a deficit for Temple to overcome.

Coach decided to make a switch in the starting five, in hopes switching something up would make players want to play harder. Freshman big man Nick Jourdain replaced senior captain J.P. Moorman, and finished the game with eight points on 3-4 from the field, and adding four rebounds and two blocks to his resume. His athleticism and length will be utilized very well by Coach McKie for years to come.

Coming off the bench for the first time this season, J.P. Moorman had a great game from the field, yet stayed in foul trouble, and eventually fouled out. Taking eight shot attempts today, that's tied for the most shots he has taken since January 9th. His shots were falling though, as he shot a good 50% from the field, and played with the same energy and passion he always does.

When asking Coach about taking J.P. out of the starting five, he said, “Nothing against J.P., but I wanted to see if we would respond differently. I also wanted to give Nick a little bit more responsibility, I think he could help us with his length and his athleticism” As the season continues winding down, look for Coach McKie to run some new guys in the rotation, to prepare as much as they can for the future.

Jake Forrester had more of a quiet game, especially for the fact that he stayed out of foul trouble. He finished with ten points on just four shots, yet six of his points came from the free throw line. Ending with just three fouls, Temple fans were surprised that he didn’t get more attention on the offensive side of the ball.

The ending of this game seemed too heavily rely on the referees. With less than a minute to go, a foul was called on the floor against Justin Brown as Khalif Battle was driving inside. Both players decided to play through the whistle, which resulted in a hard collision which sent Battle to the ground.

After reviewing the play, a technical foul was called on Brown, which resulted in Battle hitting both his free throws, cutting the lead to just six. Temple also kept possession of the ball, and got an easy dunk from Jourdain, making it a four point game with 30 seconds left.

Then came the free throw game, as both teams would head to the line back and forth during the next 20 seconds. As the Owls were down six with 12 seconds left, everyone expected Battle or Brendan Barry to take a three. Battle brought the ball up, and settled for a contested two that rimmed out, and secured a USF victory.

Along with turnovers, Temple had a difficult time securing rebounds from the Bulls. The Owls allowed 15 offensive rebounds, yet while watching the game, it seemed as though South Florida got two to three shots up every possession. After the game, Coach McKie was asked about his thoughts on rebounding the ball.

“Some of the better rebounders that ever played the game, most of them are smaller, undersized guys. Ben Wallace, Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman. You know, those guys dominate the glass, while some of it is technique a lot of it is just wanting it more than the other guy. Being comfortable playing in the mud and playing physically, we got to get better at that. You certainly got to do it by committee, it’s not just one or two guys, it’s all five guys.”

With Temple hoping for Damian Dunn to return from injury, the Owls will be facing the South Florida Bulls again this Wednesday at 7:00 PM eastern time.

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