It was physical. It was defensive. It was classic Big 5 basketball.
Unfortunately, the Quakers will have to wait another year to snap their losing streak to Temple.
In a nearly sold-out Palestra, the Red and Blue were locked into a hard-fought matchup the whole game against the Owls, but ultimately fell 60-51.
The cold shooting was unfortunately the story of Penn’s (12-6, 0-3 Big 5) night; they shot 28 percent on 17 of 60 shooting.
During the first five minutes, coach Steve Donahue did something unexpected: He went deep on his bench and reached for two unlikely faces. Rather than going to guards Jackson Donahue and Devon Goodman as a second unit, junior Jake Silpe and sophomore Jakub Mijakowski checked into the ball game.
Silpe came into the game having played in only seven games this season and playing a total of 35 minutes in those games. Mijakowski, similarly, had only appeared in three games up until today and had logged a grand total of 28 minutes.
“Anyone who plays well in practice and does what he’s done, deserves a chance,” Donahue said about Silpe. “I think he can make us a better team.”
Both players played meaningful roles in the first half, playing nine and six minutes, respectively.
Once the starters checked back into the game halfway through the first half, the Red and Blue began to chip away at the three-point Temple (10-9, 2-2) lead.
By halftime, a three from sophomore Ryan Betley and contributions from guards Antonio Woods and Caleb Wood helped the Quakers take a 25-24 lead.
The second half did not start they way the Red and Blue would have hoped.
Temple stormed out on a 14-1 run to begin the half to hold a substantial 12-point lead. The run was sparked by tremendous shooting from senior Obi Enechionyia. He drained two shots from downtown and added a jumper in the lane, showcasing the ability that makes him an NBA prospect.
But once again, as they did in the first half, the Quakers began chipping at the Temple lead.
After a pair of free throws from Foreman to cut the lead to three at the 7:50 mark, the Palestra started to get loud. The noise increased on the next possession, when Betley cut the lead to one off an assist from senior Max Rothschild.
At this point, all of the momentum favored the Quakers. It felt like the scales had tipped in their favor and that their losing streak to Temple would finally be snapped.
But as quickly as that momentum came, it was gone the next possession as Owl's junior Shizz Alston Jr. hit a massive three to tie the game at 51 with a little less than four minutes to play.
It was the beginning of the end for the Red and Blue as they saw Temple go on a 12-0 run over the final 3:45 to seal the game.
Penn failed to score over 60 points for the first game all season. They ended up shooting 28.3 percent in the game on 17 of 60 from the floor. The had trouble finishing around the rim all game and it ended up costing them in the end.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t play well on offense, we just didn’t get enough to go in the basket,” said Donahue.
In addition to their offensive struggles, Penn has not been accustomed to playing tight, low scoring defensive games this season.
Temple’s length (they come in as the seventh tallest team in the country), and style of play were factors in Penn’s lack of offensive efficiency.
“It is hard to get [Temple] out of position,” Donahue explained, “[we] started rushing our shots and that played a factor.”
A persistent trend throughout the game was Donahue’s willingness to go to his bench as 12 different Quakers saw the court and nine played significant minutes.
The Red and Blue will go for their last chance at a Big 5 victory this season next weekend against Saint Joseph’s.
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