PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/3/2016 – The Temple Owls clinched the #1 seed in the upcoming America Athletic Conference Tournament by virtue of a 72 – 62 win over the Memphis Tigers at The Liacouris Center. Temple avenged a loss to Memphis earlier this season. Coach Fran Dunphy knows those games are later next week, and he has an immediate focus.
“In our league it’s not something to get fired up about because in our league there are a number of teams that can be champions next Sunday,” said Dunphy. “If you said before the season you’ll get the number one seed, that’s great because that means we had a good year. Now we have to set our sites on Tulane next Sunday, and that’s the only thing we’re thinking about.”
Five Owl players scored in double figures led by Jaylen Bond who had 15 points on Senior Night and 10 rebounds for his 8th double-double of the season. It made his Senior Night more memorable.
“Definitely,” Bond said. “Coming out with a double-double on this special night is great for me and my family who could watch me.”
Now, as Coach Dunphy would say, let’s focus on this one.
It wasn’t easy. Temple looked to be in control leading 52 – 39 with 13:42 to play. However, Memphis responded by going on an 18 – 8 run to get to within 60 – 57 at the 3:51 mark on a three-pointer by Avery Woodson. Following a timeout the Owls scored the next three points. A layup by Ricky Tarrant brought the Tigers within 4, then a dagger three-pointer by Devin Coleman gave Temple the space they needed.
“We just had to get together,” said Temple guard Quenton DeCosey. “Devin hit a big shot. We had to keep battling and close it out.”
The Cherry and White committed a season low 5 turnovers. Four other players posted double figures. DeCosey had 13 points. Coleman and Josh Brown each had 12 points. Brown took down 7 rebounds and handed out a game-high 8 assists. Obi Enechionyia added 10 points.
Dedric Lawson led Memphis (16 – 14, 7 – 10) with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He scored all his points in the second half and got all but two of his rebounds after intermission. Tarrant scored a game-high 18 points. Shaq Goodwin added 16 points.
The Owls improve to 19 – 10 and 13 – 4 in the American where the Cherry and White are tied for first place with SMU with Cincinnati a game behind. Temple owns the tiebreaker over Cincinnati. SMU is ineligible to participate in the conference tournament.
It was Senior Night where Bond, DeCosey, Coleman, and Devontae Watson were honored prior to the game. There are more games to play. The next one is Sunday at Tulane. A win will give Temple at least a share of the regular season championship.
“We got a lot more work to do,” Brown said. “We are not settling for the number one seed. We want to continue to win games and make our bid for the (NCAA) tournament.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian