PHILADELPHIA -- David Hawkins wants to forget about Temple's late-game collapse that nearly cost the Owls a win. He'd rather focus on the first 32 minutes when Temple played perhaps its best basketball of the year.
Hawkins scored 25 points to help Temple spoil South Carolina's undefeated start with a 71-61 win on Monday night.
"I'm trying not to look at the negative," Hawkins said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but I see the progress."
The progress was nearly wiped out when the Owls 20-point lead with 7:41 left was sliced to only three with just over a minute remaining. Still, Temple denied the Gamecocks (8-1) their first 9-0 start since the 1970-1971 season.
"We've got to teach kids how to close out games," said Temple coach John Chaney, who had his 696th career victory.
The Gamecocks started short two players, as Mike Boynton and Ivan Howell arrived shortly before the 7 p.m. tip after participating in on-campus graduation ceremonies in the afternoon. Boynton, the Gamecocks starting point guard, entered the game with 13:46 left in the first half and led the team with 16 points.
Howell was scoreless in one minute.
Boynton shot a couple of airballs early and missed all three field-goal attempts in the first half before rebounding to finish 5-for-11 overall and 4-for-9 from 3-point range. Boynton brought his diploma with him and waved goodbye to his family on the way to the plane.
"Everything went as well as it could go until the end of the game," he said. "I learned one the lesson - the importance of warming up, no question about it. I got out there and my legs felt like rubber."
South Carolina could have used a fresh Boynton from the start.
Hawkins, who's second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring, hit a couple of 3-pointers early as Temple (3-4) raced to a 30-15 lead. The Owls made 10 of their first 20 shots and their matchup zone held the Gamecocks to only 24 percent shooting from the floor in the first half.
Two more 3s by Hawkins stretched Temple's lead to 55-35 midway through the second half, but South Carolina came charging back.
Boynton sank a 3-pointer, and Carlos Powell and Renaldo Balkman combined for 10 straight points as the Gamecocks made it 62-52 with 2:03 left.
South Carolina forced a turnover on an inbounds pass, leading to a Boynton 3-pointer to pull within seven with 1:53 remaining. Two straight turnovers - Temple had 15 - both led to layups by Powell, making it 62-59 with 1:02 left.
Tardy Collins sank two free throws for a five-point cushion, then Powell missed the front end of a 1-and-1. South Carolina grabbed the offensive rebound, missed, and grabbed one again, but Balkman missed the free throw.
The Owls made 18 of 26 free throws, including five in the final 42 seconds.
"There's going to be some games like that. I don't like it, but we have to deal with it," Hawkins said.
South Carolina outrebounded Temple 45-41 overall and 24-13 on offensive boards. The Gamecocks, however, were only 2-for-10 from the free-throw line and missed 28 of 35 3-point attempts.
"They were struggling to score and we came in knowing we had to put pressure on them and try to let them beat us from the outside," Hawkins said. "They started hitting shots in the second half, but it was too late."
Keith Butler added career-highs with 14 points and 12 rebounds and Collins had 12 for Temple.
Powell scored 14 points and Balkman had 10.