By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Temple Owls will be home on Wednesday as they welcome the Charlotte 49ers to the Liacouras Center in Atlantic 10 action.
Temple is coming off a heartbreaking loss at Hagan Arena on Saturday to St. Joe’s. The Owls looked like they were in control, leading by nine with 5:39 left, but the Hawks outscored Temple 18-8 from there, taking a 70-69 decision.
“We didn’t do a good job down the stretch,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy tells KYW Newsradio. “We had our chances. (Hawks guard Carl) Jones hit two big threes for them, they made a couple of real good offensive thrusts at us. We didn’t follow it. We still had our chances late with seven (seconds) and change left, with our best player with the ball. We just couldn’t figure out a way to score that last basket that would’ve gotten us over the hump. St. Joe’s is a really good team, a great environment to play in and we just couldn’t get that done and it’s disappointing.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Fran Dunphy:
Charlotte is 17-4 on the season (5-2 in the Atlantic 10) and last time out on Saturday they held off UMass, 66-65. Dunphy says they have earned their impressive ledger.
“They are an interesting group,” Dunphy says. “They have a couple of really tough rebounders. They’re a team that really does a great job on the defensive end. They are the best defenders, I’d say, combination best defenders, both two-point shots and three-point shots, in our league. And that’s going to be hard for us to compete against.”
Opponents shoot just 38% from the field against the 49ers, and just 31% from behind the three-point arc. Charlotte also is deep as they have nine players averaging at least 14 minutes a game.
On the injury front, the Owls have been without point guard T.J. DiLeo since the opening minutes of that loss to Butler on January 26th because of an bad ankle. Dunphy says he is making progress.
“He practiced a little bit today (Monday),” Dunphy says. “We’ll see how he will cut on Wednesday, and if he can cut well and go laterally a little bit better than he has over the last week, then maybe he has a chance to get in there. But he’s certainly not 100% yet and that’ll be up to the doctor, T.J. and the trainers.”
Temple and Charlotte tip-off at 7:00pm on Wednesday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw