VILLANOVA, PA. 12/5/2012 – The Temple Owls men’s basketball team extended their winning streak on the Main Line beating the Villanova Wildcats 76 – 61 at the Pavilion. The Owls erased a four-point halftime deficit with a 16 – 2 run to open the second half en route to the victory. Temple Senior guard Scootie Randall led all scorers
with 21 points and Sophomore forward Anthony Lee added a career-high 16 points. Temple Coach Fran Dunphy was encouraged by how his team turned the game around in the second half.
“I thought they came out in the second half and did a great job on defense,” said Dunphy. “I thought we moved the ball well. I’m hoping this is a sign that we can be playing better basketball as we move forward.”
Dunphy was not as optimistic at halftime as Villanova led 36 – 32. The Wildcats were shooting 51.9% (14 – 27) from the field while his Owls only made 11 of 34 shots. The second half was a different story. The Cherry and White turned up the defense forcing Villanova to miss their first ten shots of the half. The first field goal for the Wildcats came at the 9:40 mark when Junior guard Tony Chennault made a three-pointer. Before that basket Temple went off on a 16 – 2 run to take control of the game leading 50 – 39. The only Wildcat points up to that time were on free throws. The closest Villanova came after the run was 7, and the lead was double-digits over the last six-plus minutes of the game. Temple made 15 of 27 (55.6%) shots in the second half. Villanova was 7 of 20.
“We didn’t do a good job on offense in the first half,” Dunphy said. “Obviously, we didn’t do a good job on defense because they shot over 50%. Our shot selection led to some easy baskets for them. It didn’t look like we were very together in the first half.”
“I think getting off to a good start got the team going.” said Randall. “I think that was a big win for us.”
That did change. Villanova committed 20 turnovers in the game giving Temple 18 points off turnovers. During the run the Wildcats turned the ball over six times. Mishandling the ball has been a persistent problem for Villanova this season, and Coach Jay Wright felt the turnovers caused too steep of a hill for his team to climb.
“We were turning the ball over, and they were scoring and getting set in their defense, and we struggled against their defense.” Wright said. “That run was obviously the game. That’s not the kind of team you are going to press. They have too many ball handlers and pressers.”
Temple got their first win at the Pavilion since 1990 when the Owls were ranked #19 and Villanova was # 24. It was in the mid 1990’s since Temple owned back-to-back win over Villanova. The Cherry and White now have a two game winning streak against the Blue and White.
Senior guard Khalif Wyatt added 13 points while Senior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson had 7 assists and 5 rebounds to go along with his 8 points. Junior guard James Bell had a team-high 15 points for Villanova. The Wildcat big men accounted for 12 of the team’s turnovers.
Villanova levels their record at 4 – 4, and are 0 – 2 in the Big Five. The next two games for the Wildcats are city series games, visiting Penn on Saturday and hosting Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday.
The Owls up their winning streak to 6 games, 1 – 0 in the Big Five. They’ll meet a fellow undefeated team in the Duke Blue Devils at the Meadowlands on Saturday.
“We have to get ready for a terrific program and basketball team on Saturday,” said Dunphy. “It will be a great opportunity for us, a great challenge.”
“We know how good they are.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian