December 19, 2020 –
Finally the Temple Owls were able to take the court. Putting it into some historical perspective this game tied the 1937-38 team for the latest start in program history. Better late than never Temple won their opener 72 – 60 over the NJIT Highlanders who were also playing game number one.
It was an impressive performance by Temple red-shirt freshman Damian Dunn who scored a team and career high 18 points. He added 5 assists and took down 7 rebounds. Dunn sat out most all of last season with an injury, so to be back out on the court was meaningful to him.
“It felt good just to play basketball,” said Dunn. “Coming back had me reminiscing a little bit, how much I missed the game. Being able to get up and down the floor really felt good. We got a big win tonight, and we’re going to use this as momentum heading into Houston.”
Senior forward De’Vondre Perry set a career-mark grabbing 14 rebounds and he scored 12 points.
Since neither team had game experience they were starting out on an equal footing. The beginning of the game was key. The Owls got off to the fast start getting a 14 – 2 lead at the first media timeout. The Cherry and White assisted on nine of their first ten baskets. The good start had a positive effect.
“We hit our first shots which was a great thing, then were getting stops defensively,” said Perry. “Coach says how you start is how you finish, and we started very well.”
They did not sustain that and later let a 24-point lead dwindle 9 with just under five minutes to play. Senior J.P. Moorman II put the game away with back-to-back-to-back three-pointers.
Moorman II scored 10 points and freshman Jeremiah Williams added 11. Over the course of the game the shooting percentage for the Owls lowered from 48.1% (13 of 27) in the first half to 32.1% (9 for 28) for the game. Shots from beyond the arc ended up at 30% (6 of 20).
The Highlanders had two players score in double-digits led by Zach Cooks with 18. Dylan O’Hearn contributed 11 points. NJIT connected on 23 of 67 field goal attempts.
Temple outrebounded NJIT 35 – 22 overall. But the Cherry and White committed 16 turnovers. Something to clean up according to Coach Aaron McKie in the next outing. Game Two of the season is scheduled for December 22 at Houston, their curtain raiser for the American schedule.
“There were a lot of little things that I did not particularly like,” said McKie. “We had some careless turnovers. We were undisciplined putting those guys at the line. My expectations are high for the guys. So gather the information and get back at it tomorrow for us to continue to get better in our preparation for Houston on Tuesday.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian