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TEMPLE DOOMS ST. BONA WITH A STRONG SECOND HALF

Temple turned up the heat in the second half and St. Bonaventure's hopes for an upset evaporated Sunday afternoon.

The Owls, the class of the Atlantic 10 Conference, broke away from a 25-25 halftime tie to hand the Bonnies a 59-46 defeat at the Reilly Center.

Defense -- not to mention Temple's impressive pool of talent -- was the difference.

Temple coach John Chaney put the clamps on the Bona offense to start the second half and the Bonnies managed only three field goals during the first 13 minutes after intermission.

"I thought we could turn it up on them," Chaney said. "We used a 1-3-1 (zone) in the second half and went to a full-court press. That gave us a chance at some easy baskets."

The win was the eighth straight in the conference for unranked Temple, 10-7 overall and 8-1 in the Atlantic 10.

A crowd of 5,028 saw the Bonnies fall to 6-10 and 2-6.

Despite being only three games over .500, Temple appears primed for a sixth NCAA Tournament trip in the last seven years.

The Owls have played a brutal non-conference schedule, with losses to Syracuse, Illinois, La Salle, North Carolina State, Nevada-Las Vegas and Georgia Tech. They also suffered a blow when center Duane Causwell was lost for the second semester because of academics.

But Chaney still has a load of talent. On his front line are 7-foot freshman Donald Hodge (a former prep All-America), 6-9 freshman Mark Strickland and 6-8 sophomore Mik Kilgore.

Bona, a weak rebounding club, did better than expected against that trio. Aided by the return of 6-9 Dan Putney, who surprisingly recovered from a leg stress fracture that kept him out three weeks, Bona held a 36-34 rebounding edge. But Hodge & Co. still were an intimidating force, limiting Bona to five inside baskets. Hodge had 13 points, Strickland had 10 with 11 rebounds, and the two combined for five blocks in the second half.

"Hodge is like a building moving from one side of the lane to the other," Bona coach Tom Chapman said.

Bona did a decent job on Temple's All-America candidate, 6-5 junior Mark Macon. He had 14 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

But Temple point guard Mike Harden had 17 points.

"We maxed out," Chapman said. "Look at how many bullets are in our gun and how many bullets are in their gun. They grinded us."

When Temple tightened its defensive pressure, Bona was left to shoot from outside, and even Bona's three-point tries were well-contested. An 18-8 run gave Temple a 43-33 lead with 12:05 left, and Bona got no closer than nine thereafter.

The bright spot for the Bonnies was the way they executed a deliberate, slow-down style and stayed with Temple in the first half.

"We came out and set the tempo of the game," said Bona's Michael Burnett, who had a team-high 12 points. "We think we played a lot better than we have been playing."

Bona got nine points from Jason Brower. Tree Doyle had 11 rebounds, and Putney seven.

Forward Kenrick Hamilton continued to struggle. He was scoreless and had no rebounds in 20 minutes.

The Bonnies' next game is Tuesday, at home against Rhode Island (9-8, 5-3).

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