Temple's coach could only watch as Tigers senior forward Jerrelle Benimon scored 21 of his career-high 32 points in the second half.
"Obviously, Benimon is a handful," Dunphy said. "I think he's got a really good chance to be in the [NBA] next year."
After Dalton Pepper hit a three-pointer with 9 minutes, 18 seconds to play to give the Owls a 56-49 lead, things began to go awry.
"We're just not tough enough yet. We're gaining on that," Dunphy said. "I'm not overly disappointed. I'm encouraged where we find ourselves. Now, the disappointment jumps in with holding that lead."
Temple went more than 8 minutes without a field goal as Towson (3-0), which received its first-ever Associated Press Top 25 vote this week, took a 68-62 lead with 1:24 to play.
Benimon's two free throws with 13.1 to play sealed the win.
Anthony Lee had 20 for the Owls, and Will Cummings had 18.
Benimon, the nation's leading returning rebounder, had 31 in his first two games combined, but against the Owls, he had only 10. Still, Temple was outrebounded, 47-37.
"Everything was going through him," Lee said. "You just kind of have to be prepared for what he's trying to do."
Benimon scored eight straight points at one point in the second half and seven at another. He seemed to unnerve the relatively inexperienced Owls.
"We kind of went away from going inside a little bit," Lee said.
Cummings has been consistent offensively in the first three games, scoring 18, 17 and 18.
"We've got to learn to put teams away," Cummings said. "We kind of get stagnant on offense."
The Owls led, 36-31, at halftime, holding to the Tigers to 31.4 percent from the field. Temple was ahead for much of the half, but midway through, the lead changed on seven consecutive possessions.
Then, after Jerome Hairston hit a jumper with 4:13 led in the first half to give the Tigers a 26-23 lead, the Owls scored 11 straight points. Cummings hit two layups, Daniel Dingle hit one of two from the line, and Josh Brown scored on a layup for a 36-30 lead.
Dingle was pushed into the stanchion by Towson's Marcus Damas with 1:30 left. Hairston was called for a technical. Dingle slowly made his way up, then hit two free throws. Cummings hit the two technicals, and Temple led, 34-26.
The Owls don't play for another week, when they travel to Charleston, S.C., and face Clemson. After their ragged loss to Kent State and the disappointment against the Tigers, they'll get to play another team called the Tigers in 7 days.
"We're not far off," Dunphy said. "We have to get tougher to win this kind of game."