Khalif Wyatt scored a career-high 34 points.
He needed 36, unable to rescue the Temple men's basketball team in the final seconds of a 70-69 loss to St. Joe's in a Big 5/Atlantic 10 game at Hagan Arena on Saturday night.
Wyatt raised his level in front of a hostile St. Joe's crowd, but he was denied on a drive inside after St. Joe's Carl Jones missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with seven seconds left and was short on a long jumper after taking an inbounds pass with 0.7 seconds remaining.
"I'm trying to get as close as I can to the rim and I got too far, actually," said Wyatt. "I should have maybe shot a mid-range jump shot or floater. They have some pretty good shot blockers. They weren't going to let me get all the way to the rim.
"(On the last shot), I wasn't really sure how much 0.7 was, whether I had enough time to shoot my regular shot, and I rushed it."
Wyatt's long three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining made it a one-point game before Jones was fouled and went to the line, where he was unable to ice the game, giving Temple a final chance at the win.
Wyatt hit 7-of-14 three-pointers and his big shot with 5:39 left put the Owls up, 61-52. But the Hawks finished the game on an 18-8 run, including a pair of three-pointers from Carl Jones (16 points).
"The two threes by Jones were the biggest plays in the game," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
Jones and Wyatt exchanged layups in the last two minutes as the game became tied at 66 with 55 seconds left. C.J. Aiken scored a layup off a pass from Halil Kanacevic with 25 seconds to go, and Temple missed two chances on the other end.
Kanacevic hit two free throws to give the Hawks a two-possession lead, but Wyatt quickly drained the three to give the Owls one final chance.
"I think that the way Khalif has grown in their program is a testimony to him and Dunph and his staff," said St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli. "He plays like a lot of you guys play. .. He's really playing a 3-on-3 game as often as he can. He deserves a lot of credit for the way he plays the game. That 3 (at 70-66). … there's a certain talent and he has it. He scores the basketball.
"He's just a shot-maker. The shot he made against Richmond the other night tied at 61-61 was almost silly. The thing people don't understand about guys like that. … Courage. He has to live with the fact he could miss that shot, and that's what shot-makers do."
The Owls couldn't take advantage of Wyatt's heroics because they were outscored 40-16 in the paint, many of those points coming on old-fashioned three-point plays at the rim.
"They are very bullish, they have two guys who are very, very strong (in Aiken and Ron Roberts)," said Dunphy. "We did a better job of limiting the post-ups in the second half. They got some second-chance opportunities that hurt us. We're not the bulkiest on the inside.
"They attacked the glass for second-chance opportunities. They did what they had to do."
So did Wyatt. It wasn't enough.
"That's just what he does," said Temple point guard Will Cummings, who had his own career high with 11. "When he feels the moment coming, he steps up and makes big shots."
Added Dunphy: "Whenever he has the ball, we're a dangerous offensive team."
Wyatt admitted the atmosphere of the sold-out arena helped him play one of the best games of his career, though one that ultimately ended in a tough defeat.
"This is a great place to play, the crowd was into it, they were after me a little me," said Wyatt. "You're just out there, a whole building against you. … It's fun to me."
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