UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Rutgers has been known to have one of the best home-court advantages in the nation.
Outside of Jersey Mike’s Arena, the Scarlet Knights have struggled and the theme continued on Friday.
Rutgers could not overcome a sloppy first half during a 72-66 loss to Temple at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.
Paul Mulcahy (shoulder) and Caleb McConnell (knee) remained on the sideline with injuries and the Rutgers looked like a team missing both backcourt members. It has now lost its first game away from home after going 4-9 in such games last season.
The absence of Mulcahy and McConnell was difficult to overcome as the offense could not find its rhythm. Rutgers finished 1-for-16 from three-point range and 19-for-29 from the free throw line. Early on, the Scarlet Knights have also struggled from inside. Rutgers was just 12-for-25 on layup attempts.
The Scarlet Knights led for all of 19 seconds. They struggled to take care of the ball early on and finished with 13 turnovers while shooting 38% from the field.
Six minutes into the game, Rutgers (3-1) had six turnovers and just six points. Two minutes later, Temple (2-2) took its first double-digit lead with eight minutes left in the half. The Scarlet Knights had just three made field goals. The struggles also continued from in the paint as Rutgers was just 2-for-9 on layups.
Temple matched the sloppy play of Rutgers in the second half as the Scarlet Knights picked it up defensively in the second half, forcing 13 turnovers and holding Temple to two made threes. Rutgers squandered attempts to get within single digits early in the half but got there with 9:04 left.
An Audre Hyatt layup with seven minutes left cut the deficit to six but that is the closest it would get in the second half. The Scarlet Knights could not overcome poor shooting in all facets.
Temple withstood Rutgers’ run in the second half to get the game within six thanks to some big shots from New Jersey native Khalif Battle, who finished with a game-high 24 points.
Rutgers took care of the ball in the second half and was able to turn up the defensive intensity using a full-court press. This allowed the Scarlet Knights to climb back into the contest but could not get over the hump.
Cliff Omoruyi led the way with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Cam Spencer added 17 points and while Hyatt totaled 13.
Rutgers will return home on Tuesday to host Rider at Jersey Mike’s Arena.