PHILADELPHIA - The Penn men's basketball team had used a similar formula in winning its last two games -- fast starts in both halves.
The Quakers got away from that Wednesday night against Temple, and the result was a 78-53 Owls victory at The Palestra.
Temple (9-6) scored the game's first seven points to set the tone for this night, and had an 18-point lead (25-7) as the contest reached the eight-minute mark. Penn (3-8) held virtually even with the Owls the rest of the half; however, Temple put the dagger in the Quakers' hearts with a 16-7 run to start the second stanza. That made the score 58-31 and Penn was unable to get back into the contest.
Zack Rosen had 12 points to lead Penn, while classmate Rob Belcore had 11 and sophomore Harrison Gaines scored 10. However, on this night the Quakers struggled from the field (17-of-52, 32.7 percent) and committed 15 turnovers.
One of the top storylines, of course, was the return of Fran Dunphy, who spent 17 years as Penn's head coach before moving to Temple following the 2005-06 season. This game had far less hoopla than his first trip back here to face his former program, and unfortunately for Penn fans the outcome was far different as well (Penn won that 2007 contest by two points). If anything, you had to be flabbergasted at how quickly Temple seemed to deliver the knockout punch.
Penn started the game with three turnovers, while Dionte Christmas, Lavoy Allen and Craig Williams pumped home shots to give Temple a 7-0 lead. The teams virtually traded points for the next few possessions, but then Temple used a 14-2 run that covered nearly four minutes and put the Quakers way behind the eight-ball.
Penn had an answer, as Brennan Votel hit a layup and Gaines followed with a personal eight-point run (two treys, two free throws). That made the score 25-17, and it looked like the Quakers might be able to climb back into this contest. However, Christmas answered with a three-pointer, and while the Quakers were missing treys at the other end Sergio Olmos hit a foul shot and then dunked home a feed from Juan Fernandez. It was 31-17 at that point, and while Penn hung around it was still 42-24 at the break.
Penn was looking to bringthe deficitback down to 10 points before too much of the second half went by, but once again the Quakers' first three possessions yielded three turnovers. Meanwhile, Temple's Semaj Inge hit a layup and Williams hit another trey to make the score 47-24. Penn got those points back on a Tyler Bernardini layup and a Rosen three, but then Christmas spurred an 11-2 run with eight points including two trifectas. That made the score 58-31. Temple's lead crested at 30 on a few occasions after that.
For Temple --which is picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 this season --Christmas led the way with 25 points, while Williams had 17. Christmas was a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc, and as a team the Owls were a staggering 13-of-19 (68.4 percent).
The Quakers are back in action Saturday afternoon, traveling to NJIT to face the Highlanders at 2 p.m. The game is being played at NJIT's Fleisher Athletic Center. Next week, Penn will conclude its Philadelphia Big 5 slate, traveling to La Salle Wednesday and then playing Saint Joseph's at The Palestra on Saturday, Jan. 24.