Mustang Rally: Temple loses second-half lead

For the second straight game, the Temple men’s basketball team held a double-digit lead in the second half. For the second straight game, it slipped away. The Owls fell, 60-55, to SMU on Wednesday after leading by as many as 13 points in the second half.

For the second straight game, the Temple men’s basketball team held a double-digit lead in the second half.

For the second straight game, it slipped away.

The Owls fell, 60-55, to SMU on Wednesday after leading by as many as 13 points in the second half. The collapse came one game after a similar advantage was wasted in their first home loss of the season to Tulsa.

Overall, Temple – which appeared on the verge of joining the Top 25 last week – is now 12-6 overall and 3-2 in the American Athletic Conference. The Mustangs are 13-4, 4-1.

The task won’t get any easier with Temple traveling to Cincinnati on Saturday night.

“It’s a hard stretch, but that’s the challenge,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

Temple’s starting point guard Will Cummings, who had been questionable with an ankle injury, came off the bench and played 27 minutes. He had just one point, though dished out five assists.

The Owls held a 41-28 lead early in the second half, but Larry Brown’s Mustangs chipped away with a strong performance from Markus Kennedy. SMU finally went ahead for the first time in the second half on Nic Moore’s jumper with 2:05 to play.

The 52-51 Mustang lead didn’t last long as a Quenton DeCosey free throw tied the game, but Moore drained a big three to snap the deadlock with 1:18 remaining and the Owls never recovered.

The 6-9 Kennedy finished with 21 points and seven rebounds and took advantage of the Owls’ defensive stalwart Jaylen Bond having to play conservatively because of foul trouble.

“He’s a great player and he got easy position on us,” said Bond. “I wasn’t able to be as aggressive as I normally do because I didn’t want to get my fifth foul.

“We just have to keep working hard and be smarter towards the end of games, make better decisions and make better stops.”

Jesse Morgan led the Owls with 15 points, while Quenton DeCosey added 13. Morgan shot 5-of-13 from the field one game after an abysmal 1-for-17 performance contributed to the Temple loss.

“We just have to do better, we have to defend better and have to work harder,” said an emotional Morgan. “There’s no reason we should be losing these games. We just have to do better. We let up some times and lose it.

“We have to push and help each other out. For me, I have to do better with my shot selection, find Jaylen and find my teammates. I just have to get better.”

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