Houston extends Temple's losing streak to four

Posted: March 03, 2014

After a run of five consecutive games vs. nationally ranked opponents, Temple discovered that going up against unranked Houston provided no relief, especially with the Owls' defense again struggling to stop their foes from scoring.

The Cougars made their last seven shots from the field and connected on 73 percent of their attempts in the second half Saturday night in posting an 89-79 victory over Temple at the Liacouras Center in an American Athletic Conference game.

In losing their fourth straight game and eighth of their last nine, the Owls (7-21, 2-14 American) had problems with the fast-paced offense of the Cougars (15-14, 7-9), who got the ball downcourt quickly after a missed shot, a made shot, or a turnover by Temple.

Houston was only credited with 13 fastbreak points, but as Temple coach Fran Dunphy pointed out, "I'm not sure how they count those.

"It seemed like there were great opportunities that they had," Dunphy said. "We scored at one end, and we didn't do a good job at getting back and matching up at the other end. I thought we were back there a couple of times and didn't do a great job of matching up when we got back there."

The game featured a 19-point swing in the first half - the Owls led by nine and later trailed by 10. From a 43-39 halftime deficit, Temple tied the game at 49 on Will Cummings' layup with 17 minutes, 10 seconds remaining, but the Cougars went on a 12-2 run after that to take control.

The Houston lead grew to as many as 15, 79-64, on a three-point basket by L.J. Rose with 4:06 left to play, and the visitors fended off a late flurry led by Cummings, whose three-point play with 1:16 remaining got the Owls as close as 82-77.

But TaShawn Thomas, who led Houston with 24 points, responded with a tough basket inside and the Cougars finished off the game by making free throws.

Dalton Pepper scored 24 points to lead the Owls. He had 18 in the first half, but did not score for the first 16 minutes of the second. He had to leave the game late to address cramping issues, but Pepper gave credit to the Houston defense.

"They were denying a lot in the second half, and it was tough for me to get open looks," he said. "They adjusted in the second half."

jjuliano@phillynews.com

@joejulesinq

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