Khalif Wyatt’s big second half was just what Temple needed.
Temple’s Khalif Wyatt shook off a frustrating first half to finish with 26 points in the Owls 76-69 victory over the cross-town rival Penn Quakers in a Big 5 contest.
The Quakers led by as many as nine points with ten minutes to go in the second half, but were unable to stop the hot shooting of Wyatt.
Quakers coach Jerome Allen is still looking for his first win against former coach Fran Dunphy.
For the second year in a row, the Penn Quakers had the Temple Owls right where they wanted them. In the end, it would be Fran Dunphy’s bunch who would steal the win. On a night when the wind chill was in the single digits, the action inside the Liacouras Center was hot and heavy early on as Temple jumped out to an eight point lead. Penn guard Miles Cartwright (21 pts., 6 rebs) was able to dictate the Quakers tempo as they slowly chipped away to a 33-31 halftime lead.
The Quakers smaller, quicker guards were able to penetrate and get easy baskets. Penn finished with 16 assists on their 24 field goals. Penn was 4-10 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Khalif Wyatt was 2-3 from the field for 5 points in the first half. Wyatt was visibly frustrated when he tried to feed a pass into forward Anthony Lee (16 pts., 9 rebs). The Owls had 10 first half turnovers — which Penn converted into 13 points.
The second half began with the Quakers feasting on their first half momentum. Penn’s lead would reach nine points with about 15 minutes to go in regulation. For roughly five to seven minutes, Penn answered every Owls rally with either a three pointer or free throws. Cartwright continued to put the pressure on the Owls, scoring 14 second half points.
Once Wyatt got going, his teammates raised their play. Wyatt’s 21 second half points included 4 of 6 three-pointers — which awakened a dormant Temple crowd. Reserve T.J. DiLeo’s two three-pointers gave the Owls their first lead since late in the first half. DiLeo’s gritty defense was key in the Owls second half run.
The Quakers seemed to run out of gas in the final four minutes, as the Owls shooting and defensive pressure was just too much in the end.
Quakers head coach Jerome Allen was proud of his team’s effort, but stressed there is no joy in losing. “It (the loss) doesn’t mean anything to me. We play the game to win, I coach the game to win.” Allen continued, “At the end of the day the loss is a reflection of what we did not do.”
When asked about the Quakers losing the lead down the stretch Allen responded, “I don’t think we played down the stretch the right way.” he added, “If it comes down to conditioning, then that’s my fault.” The Quakers will have an opportunity to right the ship with eight days to prepare for Columbia.
Fran Dunphy was quick to acknowledge what Allen has done at a place he used to call home. “They ran their offense better than we did.” This is the fourth year in a row where they played better than we did and we just found a way to win.” Dunphy added, “I like their team and I like where there going.”
The Owls face the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday.