Temple outlasts USF’s strong shooting

USF junior guard Nehemias Morillo scored 16 points in USF’s 77-65 loss to Temple on Sunday. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/ADAM MATHIEU

It was an uncharacteristic night for USF men’s basketball on the road against Temple. Shooting the ball an efficient 55 percent, USF had the second-best performance of any Temple opponent this season. 

Although USF (5-21) didn’t edge out the win – falling to the Owls (16-8) 77-65 on Sunday night in front of a crowd of 7,560 – it did show what a healthy offense could look like if given the chance.

“Every time we got close, Temple made a big play, a big shot, or we gave up a big offensive rebound,” Antigua said in a press release. “If we take care of the ball and rebound, with the way we shot the ball, you are supposed to win this type of game. We have to keep finishing off possessions.”

USF was reduced to just five scholarship players by the final buzzer of its matchup with SMU last week. With junior forward Bo Zeigler (knee) being the latest to succumb to injury.

With a week’s rest, Zeigler, as well as freshman forward Luis Santos (health issue), were able to rejoin the team in Philadelphia. Although junior forward Chris Perry – currently suspended – did travel with the team, he didn’t play.

USF, which averages 41 percent shooting on the season, reached their second-highest shooting performance of the season. Four Bulls shot over 45 percent with Zeigler and sophomore center Ruben Geurerro combining for 17 points, making 8-of-9 shots and a free throw.

 “We’ve challenged Ruben that he can produce like that for us,” Antigua said. “He needs to produce like that for us. We need a better effort, not just from him, but from everyone on the glass. 

“We gave up 14 offensive rebounds and that’s an area that is supposed to be a strength for us because of our size.”

USF also began to heat up from long range sinking 6-of-13 shots compared to Temple’s 9-of-24. Freshman guard Jahmal McMurray shot 57 percent from beyond the arc en route to a game-high 24 points.

It was McMurray’s fifth time eclipsing the 20-point mark this season.

A 3-point shot by McMurray finished off a 15-9 run to pull USF within four, 54-49, with just under 14 minutes remaining in the game, but the USF defense collapsed, allowing the Owls to respond with an 11-0 run of their own.

Jaylen Bond led Temple with 18 points and 14 rebounds. USF Junior guard Nehemias Morillo notched his second-highest point total of the season with 16.

USF plays at East Carolina Tuesday at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.