The Temple Owls returned to the Top 25 in college basketball and wanted to keep the momentum going. The Owls did in the first half. In the second half the team did not retain focus, and had to hold off Fordham. They did, and came away with a 77 – 66 win at the Liacouris Center in a game closer than the final score indicated.
“We got complacent, and they had nothing to lose,” Temple Junior Guard Ramone Moore said about Fordham making the game close. “We just can’t let that happen. Coach (Dunphy) got upset with us, and he should be. We did a bad job coming out in the second half giving them momentum and getting back into the game.”
The Owls got off to a quick start. Leading 13 – 9 at the 13:34 mark Temple went on a 10 – 3 run to move ahead by a score of 23 – 12 with 10:48 to play in the half. The Owls went hard to the offensive glass as four of the five baskets in the spurt came after Temple kept the possessions going by getting offensive rebounds. The Owls registered 14 offensive rebounds in the first half and 27 overall. The Cherry and White followed that up scoring 14 consecutive points without a missed basket. 4 points were scored at the free throw line. Moore, Senior Forward Lavoy Allen, Junior Forward Scootie Randall, and Sophomore Guard Khalif Wyatt scored the baskets. Randall and Wyatt made three-point shots. The 37 – 12 lead was the largest of the half. Temple owned a 20 – 5 edge in 2nd Chance Points. Fordham showed life getting to within 47 – 29 at the half. That was the first half.
The Rams kept their momentum going by opening the second half with a 13 – 3 run to climb to within 8 points at 50 – 42. A three-pointer by Fordham Guard Brandon Frazier cut the gap to 53 – 50 with 13:17 on the clock. Frazier missed the foul shot which would have made it a four-point play. Temple was not making shots, missing 11 straight shots, and could not corral the offensive rebounds they did earlier. Temple held the lead, but could not pull away. With 4:56 to play Randall made hit a trey to give Temple a 65 – 57 lead. Junior Guard Juan Fernandez three-pointer at the 3:48 mark gave the Owls a double-digit lead at 69 -57. They played the clock from that point on. Temple shot 24.2% in the second half making 8 of 33 shots.
“We started to get our focus back and turned up the defense,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said. “We need to play with focus.”
Moore scored a team-high 22 points. Randall and Junior Center Michael Eric each scored 12 points, and Fernandez and Sophomore Center Rahlir Jefferson contributed 10 points apiece. Temple had a 49 – 36 rebounding edge, 24 – 10 on the offensive end. Allen pulled down 14 rebounds, 10 offensive. Allen left the game late with a sprained ankle. Temple turned the ball over 7 times compared to 17 for Fordham.
Fordham Guard Chris Gaston scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Guard Branden Frazier scored 12 points, and Guard Brenton Butler added 10.
#24 Temple won their fifth straight game and improves to 18 – 5 on the season, 8 – 2 in the Atlantic 10. The Owls prepare for a trip to Dayton on February 12. Fordham is 6 – 16 overall and is looking for its first conference wins against 10 losses.
“We had guys that didn’t pay attention to detail,” Dunphy said.
Key Run of the Game
At the 10:48 mark of the first half Temple led 23 – 12. The Owls would score the next 14 points, 4 at the foul line. Temple did not miss a field goal attempt in the run. Randall and Wyatt each scored 4 in the run, and five different players overall posted points. Temple lead 37 – 12 with 7:27 to play in the half. The 25-point lead was the largest in the half for the Owls. While the game got close, it was too steep of as slope for Fordham to climb.
Key Stat of the Game
Temple out-rebounded Fordham 49 – 36 that included a 24 – 10 margin on the offensive end. The Owls led in 2nd Chance Points 24 – 10.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, so offensive rebounds were important for us,” said Dunphy.
Key Players in the Game
For Temple – Ramone Moore scored a team-high 22 points and handed out 4 assists. Moore made 2 of 5 from beyond the arc, and was a perfect 6 for 6 from the free throw line.
For Fordham – Guard Chris Gaston who scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Gaston made 11 of 19 shots,
Point Where the Game Was Decided
Randall made a three-point shot with 4:56 on the clock giving Temple a 65 – 57 lead. Following a Jefferson free throw, Fernandez nailed a three to put the Owls ahead 69 – 57 with 3:48 remaining. From that point on Temple played the clock
Thoughts and Musings
The Temple rooting section wore green t-shirts as part of Temple’s “Green Out” to officially kick off RecycleMania. It was a bit of a shock to see Temple’s Wild Cherry bunch decked out in green.
Temple had a large lead, but Fordham came back to cut the lead to 53 – 50. Dunphy was disappointed by the loss of focus. What disappointed him more was that Fordham closing the gap cost him the chance to give more playing time to Guards Aaron Brown and T.J. DiLeo. With Dunphy it is always about people.
To those who were surprised by the Fordham comeback, earlier this season the Rams trailed St. John’s and made a run. In that game Fordham won 84 – 81.
Written By: Glenn Papazian