Poor shooting performance leads to loss against Temple

One of the only bright spots for the Bulls in Wednesday’s loss was the play of senior wing Justin Brown (above), who scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

The USF men’s basketball team fell to the Temple Owls at home Wednesday night 65-47 due to a season-worst shooting performance along with issues taking care of the basketball.

The Bulls (8-9, 4-7 AAC) played the Owls (5-10, 4-10) just three days prior to Wednesday’s matchup, but the two outcomes were incredibly different.

In the first game, Feb. 21 in Philadelphia, USF’s offense was clicking on all cylinders. The Bulls scored 83 points while shooting 40.3% from the field in a winning effort. Wednesday’s game, on the other hand, saw the Bulls drop a season-low 47 points on 28.8% shooting.

“When you don’t shoot the ball as well as you’re capable of shooting, it puts you in a tougher spot,” coach Brian Gregory said.

In addition to the shooting woes, the Bulls struggled to take care of the basketball as they logged 15 turnovers to Temple’s nine.

Gregory said the turnover issue could be a result of the team still getting back into rhythm after the monthlong hiatus it took a few weeks ago. Gregory said the team is running more live reps in practice, but doing so is tricky.

“We’re trying to play a little bit more in practice because of that, but then at the same time, you can’t go too long and too hard in practice because of the turnaround and still trying to get the guys back on track with recovery and stuff like that,” Gregory said. “So it’s been a challenge, there’s no doubt about it.

“We didn’t do much obviously on Monday, but [Tuesday] we tried to go live with some more up and down five-on-five, because of the fact [we’re] not as connected as you need to be both offensively and defensively, so you’re in a catch-22.”

As much as USF came up short on offense, the defensive side of the ball also proved to be an issue.

The Owls shot 23-of-51 from the field and 47.8% from behind the three-point arc, much higher than their season average of 35.1%.

“I thought we did a good job closing out the half down four, with the ball to start the second half, but I felt we needed to do a better job on the defensive end,” Gregory said. “At that point in the first half they had seven out of their 12 baskets were threes.

“They were 7-of-14 from the three, 21 out of their 34 points came from the three, so we were a little slow, feet in the mud on some closeouts.”

Despite closing at the first half well, as Gregory noted, USF was outscored 31-17 in the second half, leading to the eventual 18 point difference on the scoreboard in the end.

If the loss itself wasn’t bad enough for the Bulls, junior forward Alexis Yetna fell to the floor after a rebound attempt in the second half, appearing to favor his ankle. Yetna returned to the bench after halftime, but did not play for the remainder of the game.

“No news on him, [it’s an] ankle right now, obviously we’ll find out a little more tonight and tomorrow,” Gregory said. “[He] just came down on it wrong, according to him I don’t think he stepped on anybody, I think it was just on the rebound in traffic, [he] just came down awkwardly on that ankle.”

Gregory said the squad will try to put this loss behind them and look ahead toward a busy week.

“We’ll have a day off tomorrow and try to re=energize a little bit and get ready for another week where we go Sunday, Tuesday, we’ll have a day off [of practice], then Saturday,” he said. “The challenges are not going to decrease at all, they’re only going to increase.”

The Bulls will need all the help they can get in their next matchup as they take on No. 12 Houston in the Fertitta Center in Texas on Feb. 28 with tipoff set for 4 p.m.

The game against the Cougars will be televised on ESPNU and broadcast on 95.3/620 WDAE/iHeartRadio Bulls Unlimited.