PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team performed gamely for much of Wednesday night's game at Temple, but the Owls made the plays down the stretch to overcome the Quakers, 76-69.
The Quakers (3-15) led by as much as nine in the second half, but the Owls (13-5) -- led by Khalif Wyatt -- used an 11-0 run over a four-minute span late in the game to turn a three-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
Wyatt scored 21 of his game-high 26 points after the intermission, and his three-pointer with 5:25 gave Temple a lead it would not relinquish, at 66-64. After a Penn turnover, Wyatt was fouled and hit a pair of foul shots to make it a four-point game.
Darien Nelson-Henry had a chance to halve the lead at the foul line, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 4:52 to play (the Quakers' only missed free throw of the night). At the other end, Anthony Lee was fouled and he made both foul shots. The Quakers then had a pair of empty possessions, and Jake O'Brien made them pay with another jumper that made the score 72-64.
Dau Jok hit a pair of foul shots to make it a six-point game with 2:49 left, but then arguably the possession of the game occurred as Temple got four shots at the basket in a possession that lasted more than a minute. The final one of those rebounds was a wide-open tip-in for Scottie Randall, and that made it an eight-point game with only 1:22 left. Penn had nothing left.
Penn scored the first points of the night, Greg Louis hitting a jumper, but Temple responded with the next eight to take an 8-2 lead. However, Penn showed fight on this night, and when Patrick Lucas-Perry hit a three-pointer with 7:52 to play -- his second of the game -- it was 22-22.
Lee and Randall sandwiched baskets around another Louis jumper, before Lucas-Perry and Miles Cartwright drained treys to push the Quakers in front, 30-26. That lead opened up to as much as six, after Lucas-Perry was fouled on another trey attempt and hit all three foul shots, and the Quakers went into the break up, 33-31.
How dominant was Wyatt to start the second half? He figured in all of Temple's first 23 points of the second half, scoring 16 of them and assisting on the other three buckets (all scored by Lee). Penn was up, 45-36, and Wyatt sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around his own free throw to make it a two-point game.
Penn answered. Henry Brooks and Lee traded points, and then Nelson-Henry scored a layup off a Camryn Crocker feed before Cartwright scored an old-fashioned three-point play. That put the Quakers back on top by seven, 52-45.
Wyatt again strapped Temple on his back. He hit a jumper, then scored a layup after a Brooks miss. Penn turned it over on the next possession, and Wyatt tied the game with a trey as the half reached the midway point. Nelson-Henry pushed Penn back in front, only for Wyatt to knock down two more foul shots. (At that point, Wyatt had scored 16 of Temple's last 18 points.)
Cartwright hit two foul shots to put Penn up, 56-54, but then T.J. DiLeo ended Wyatt's personal run with his first points of the night, a three-pointer that gave Temple its first lead since 26-24 in the first half.
Penn was not done. Lucas-Perry again got free, took a feed from Nelson-Henry out of the block, and coolly hit a three from the top of the key that made it 59-57. DiLeo missed another trey attempt, and Cartwright was fouled on the rebound and made both free throws to make it a four-point game.
Temple tied it with at 61-61, but Cartwright knocked down a three-pointer to make it 64-61 with seven minutes to play. However, at that point the Owls went on their decisive run.
Cartwright scored 21 points and had six rebounds to lead Penn in both categories, while Nelson-Henry scored 17 points for the third time in five games. Lucas-Perry had 15 points, going 4-of-5 on three-pointers, while Brooks finished with 10.
For Temple, Lee complemented Wyatt's efforts on Wednesday night with a near double-double (16 points, nine rebounds), while O'Brien scored 14.
Penn is now off until the weekend of February 1-2, when the Quakers dive into Ivy League play with Columbia (Friday at 7 p.m.) and Cornell (Saturday at 7 p.m.) at The Palestra.
Game Notes: Penn scored 69 points, its second-best output in a game in its last 16 games (bested only by the 83 scored against Lafayette on Jan. 8) ... Penn shot 45.3 percent from the field, its second-best performance in the last 13 games (bested only by the Quakers' 59.6 performance against Lafayette on Jan. 8) ... One game after shooting a season low at the foul line, Penn was a season-best .938 (15-of-16) at the free-throw line Wednesday night ... Penn had more assists (16) than turnovers (13) for the second straight game, the third time in five games, and the fourth time this season ... Penn had fewer turnovers (13) than its opponent (15) for the second straight game and the seventh time this season ... Penn had six steals, giving the Quakers six or more thefts in each of the last eight games ... Junior Miles Cartwright tied a season high with 21 points, his team-leading 11th double-figure scoring game this season and team-high fourth 20-point game of 2012-13 ... It was the first 20-point game by a Penn player since both Cartwright and junior Fran Dougherty had 20 against Fordham, a span of 13 games ... Cartwright led Penn with six rebounds, the first time this season he has led the team outright in boards in a game ... Freshman Darien Nelson-Henry tied his season/career high with 17 points, the second straight game and third time in five games he has hit that mark ... Nelson-Henry has scored in double figures in five straight games (14.8 ppg) and has shot 64.0 percent from the field in that span (32-of-50) ... Nelson-Henry also set a season/career high with three assists ... Sophomore Patrick Lucas-Perry tied a season/career high with 15 points, and set a career best with four three-point baskets ... Sophomore Henry Brooks scored 10 points, his second double-figure scoring game this season and fifth at Penn ... Junior Steve Rennard tied a season/career high with three assists ... Sophomore Camryn Crocker had four assists and one turnover; in the last six games, he has 19 assists and 6 turnovers (3.17 ratio) ... Penn played for the eighth straight game without Dougherty; he is expected to be back in the lineup for Penn's next games, against Columbia and Cornell.