The Temple men's basketball team was looking for a third win over a nationally-ranked team this year - this time the No. 1 team in the country - and a Big 5 title when it traveled across town to Villanova on Tuesday night.
The Owls came away with neither as Villanova broke open a close game with a 9-0 run at the end of the first half, then pulled away after the break for an easy 78-57 victory. The WIldcats improved to 11-0 overall and finished undefeated in the Big 5 for a fourth straight season, while Temple fell to 7-4, 3-1 with its second loss in its last three games.
"It's a terrific basketball program, and it's a special group," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy of Villanova. "They have it going on and it's up to the rest of us to figure it out."
Shizz Alston Jr. scored 12 points and Daniel Dingle added 11, the only players who reached double figures for the Owls. The Wildcats held Obi Enechionyia to just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.
Villanova coach Jay Wright called the first half one of the Wiildcats' best defensive performances of the year, especially with the work on Enechionyia. Overall, Temple shot 25 percent in the first half.
"In the first half, their defense was outstanding, our defense was outstanding and the end of the first half was big and it came off our defense," said Villanova coach Jay Wright. "They're a good team. They beat two Top 25 teams, beat a team in our league (DePaul). We value that win. They're really good at keeping you in front of them and contesting shots.
"I think (Enechiyonia) is one of the best players in the country. He's the kind of guy who can go for 30. We really tried to limit his touches, and that was the best part of our defense."
The Owls didn't have as much success against the Wildcats' top gun, Josh Hart, who was quiet for most of the first half before heating up and finishing with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting with three assists and three steals.
Villanova led just 20-16 with 2:51 left in the first half after a Dingle three-point play and it looked like the Owls might be in the contest for the long run. But Hart scored six points in the final minute of the half and Villanova took a 29-16 lead into the locker room.
The second half didn't go much better, despite Dingle opening the stanza with a three-point play to cut the deficit to 10. The Owls never pulled within single digits again and and an 11-0 Villanova run midway through the second half pushed the lead to 21 and essentially sealed the game.
"We just didn't make shots," said Dingle. "They were the tougher team and got the win. They did a great job rotating, but we had a lot of open shots and didn't make them."