PHILADELPHIA - Playing its second game in less than 24 hours, and facing a formidable city rival in Temple, the question Penn faced entering Saturday's contest at The Palestra was whether or not it would hit a wall at some point.
The answer? Early in the second half, at least on paper. In a game that became a grind-it-out affair, Temple came away on top, 50-46, in the second half of the Big 5 Classic.
“I think we had a lot of opportunities tonight," said junior guard Ibrahim Jaaber, who led Penn with 17 points. "They made turnovers, we made turnovers, but I don’t think we capitalized as much on theirs as much as they did on ours. They got a bunch of transition buckets. But, we just have to bounce back from this.”
Penn (3-2) came out smoking to start Saturday's game with the Owls, scoring the game's first eight points and leading by as much as 10 in the first half before taking a 27-20 lead into the break.
The first half was a clinic on ball movement by Penn, who found seams in the Temple zone and converted shots from all over the court in building its lead. The Quakers led by at least five throughout the stanza, and got three-pointers from four different players led by David Whitehurst who had two in the opening period.
The tables quickly turned to start the second half, as Temple (3-2) put up the first 10 points of the second half and took its first lead with 15:51 to play when Mardy Collins drained a three-pointer. The Owl run extended to 17-4, and when Antywane Robinson hit a trey with 11:44 to play the score was 37-31.
“I thought they played pretty tough," said Jaaber. "We weren’t ready for the trap in the beginning, but I thought we should’ve been able to adjust. We just got a little bit sloppy and it cost us.”
Penn still had energy left in the tank, although nothing came easy for either side offensively in the game's final 10 minutes. The gritty Quakers hung around, tying the score at 39-39 with six minutes left when Jaaber knocked down a layup off a feed from Whitehurst. However,Dustin Salisberry dropped a three-pointer to five Temple back the lead, and nearly a minute went off the clock before Dion Dacons hit a free throw to make the Owls' lead four points.
Eric Osmundson, who has struggled the last three games with his shooting, finally drained a trey with 3:30 left that made it a one-point game, and then more than a minute went by before Salisberry hit another jumper that was answered by Zoller at the other end to make the score 45-44, Temple.
Dion Dacons missed two free throws for Temple, and then Jaaber stole the ball from Robinson in the ensuing scrum. However, Penn could not get anything from it, and Collins was fouled by Whitehurst with 51 seconds left and hit both freebies to up the Owls' lead to three. Penn could not score on its next possession, but Collins was fouled and missed his charity shot. From there, Jaaber hit a layup that again made it a one-point game.
Penn fouled Mark Tyndale, who made the first but missed the second, and Temple fouled Zoller on the rebound. However, the junior could not hit the front end of a one-and-one, Salisberry got the board and he made both free throws after being fouled. Penn had two more attempts to score in the game's final seconds, but could not convert.
“We were hoping that they were going to miss a shot and get it down and get a good shot and then call a timeout, but it didn’t happen that way,” said Dunphy.
In addition to his 17 points, Jaaber also came up with five rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and four steals. Whitehurst was the only other Penn player in double figures, with 10 points. One day after shooting 55 foul shots intheir win over Navy, the Quakers took just three foul shots -- and the first did not come until 10:35 was left in the game.
For Temple, Salisberry nailed several tough shots en route to a game-high 21 points, while Collins scored 13 and Robinson added 10.
Penn is back in action Wednesday, finally hitting the road after starting the season with five games at The Palestra. And what a way to start the road season -- No. 1 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Quakes and Blue Devils will tip off at 7 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast live on ESPN2.