Saint Joseph’s rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half but couldn’t get over the hump, falling to Temple, 81-78, in a Big 5 matchup at the Liacouras Center. Shavar Newkirk led Saint Joseph’s (4-5; 0-2 Big 5) with 18 points, while Temple (6-2; 1-1) was led by Shizz Alston with 20 points.
Trailing 74-58 with over five minutes to play, Saint Joseph’s started chipping away with back-to-back threes from Newkirk and freshman Taylor Funk. Down 76-66, Funk hit a pair of three pointers to pull the Hawks within 76-72 at 1:30.
After missed free throws on SJU’s next possession, Josh Brown hit a pair of free throws at :33 to put TU up, 78-72. Newkirk scored quickly to get the Hawks back within four, but Brown made 1-of-2 from the line for a 79-74 Temple lead.
Chris Clover’s layup at :11 cut SJU’s deficit to 79-76, but Brown iced it with two more free throws as Temple owned an 81-76 lead. Newkirk scored with one second left to provide the final margin.
Clover had 17 points and a career-high nine rebounds for SJU while James Demery added 15 points. Funk scored 15 points on 5-for-6 three-point shooting, with three three-pointers in the final 3:46. Pierfrancesco Oliva grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds.
Leading 40-29 at halftime, Temple maintained the lead throughout the half and took its largest lead to that point, 49-36, on a three-pointer by Quinton Rose at 17:01.
The Hawks came within eight points three more times, and a layup by Clover at 6:47 pulled Saint Joseph’s within, 66-58. Temple responded with eight straight points, including five from Rose to give the Owls their biggest margin of the game, 74-58, with over five minutes to play.
In the first half, both teams used double digit runs in the early going. Trailing 8-3, Saint Joseph’s went on a 14-0 spurt spanning five minutes, shooting 7-of-11 from the field, to take a 17-8 lead with 12:44 to play. Temple answered with a 10-0 run of its own to retake the lead, 18-17, with 9:22 to play.
Saint Joseph’s regained the lead, 26-23, at 6:21 but Temple scored 12 straight, with four from Shizz Alston, to go up 35-26. After a basket by Demery, Perry hit a three-pointer to give Temple its first double-digit lead of the game, 38-28. The Owls took a 40-29 lead into the break.
“This game is a skill game and with eight turnovers in the first half, we didn’t have enough skill. Foul shooting is a skill; ball handing is a skill. It was purely skill,” said head coach Phil Martelli.
“We just had brilliance in that lockerroom from (injured) Lamarr Kimble. He said to them that every single play is significant. And Shavar (Newkirk) told them that they have to get in the lab. You have to work on your game.”
“We played with the right amount of energy – but just not with enough skill.”
Saint Joseph’s gets a week break for final exams and returns to action on Sunday, December 17, when it hosts Maine at Hagan Arena in a 4:30 p.m. start.