Temple Wins Their First Big Five Game of the Season 73 – 57 Over La Salle
PHILADELPHIA, PA 12/1/2021 –
Sometimes it is simple. When one team makes its shots, and the other team does not, that’s the difference in a basketball game. The Temple Owls made nearly half of the field goal attempts, and the La Salle Explorers converted only half that many. The result was a 73 – 57 win for the Owls at the Liacouras Center.
“I thought our shot selection was good,” said Explorers Coach Ashley Howard. “We got some good looks. We got easy plays at the rim. When you’re watching the game and the other team is making the same shots you’re missing, you hope the shots would fall. They didn’t. When you get into that position as a player, it’s human nature to press a little bit.”
On the offensive side for the Cherry and White the guard duo of Khalif Battle and Damian Dunn led the way. Battle scored 22 points making 7 of 13 from the floor and 3 of 5 from distance. Battle sank 5 of 6 from the free throw line. Dunn contributed 16 points while adding a season-high 4 assists and took down 6 rebounds. The tandem is an essential part of the Owls offensive scheme. When they are effective, the team is effective.
“They have to, it’s how we’re designed,” said Temple Coach Aaron McKie. “They’re seeing different looks defensively. You figure it out. It’s not something new. When you’re a good player, they show you the proper attention.”
The Owls got off to a better start and made the Explorers play uphill. In the first half Temple shot 14 of 27 from the field and sank 4 of 8 from beyond the arc. La Salle did not make a three-pointer and was good on only 6 of 33 field goal attempts. The halftime lead was 39 – 22 Temple, and provided a lift for the Owls.
“It’s a confidence booster when you look up at the half,” said Dunn. “It’s the biggest margin we’ve seen all year. We need to work on maintaining that, not letting up on defense. Keep being aggressive, and lock in on plays.”
The Cherry and White expanded the lead to 29 points.
La Salle started to find the range over the last six and a half minutes. Guard Sherif Kenney drained three from distance in that stretch as the Explorers cut into the deficit as the clock would down. The Explorers won the second half 35 – 34.
“We fought back and battled,” Howard said. “But it was one of those nights. It’s hard to win when you shoot the ball in that percentage.”
Kenney scored a game and career-high 23 points for La Salle. Forward Christian Ray pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
La Salle falls to 2 – 4 and has lost two straight Big Five games.
“I’m disappointed because the Big Five means a lot to us as a program.”
Jake Forrester scored 12 points while taking down 6 caroms for the Owls. Battle left the game late with a lower body injury.
Temple improves to 4 – 3 and is 1 – 0 in the city series. A Big Five win is significant for the Owls.
“I told them about not only the importance to us, to me, but to the city of Philadelphia, the fabric of the Big Five,” McKie told his team. “It’s special. It’s unique. It was a unique opportunity for me growing up watching it. It was a unique opportunity to play in it and now coach in it. It’s for bragging rights. You see the same guys and coaches throughout the summer, so it’s nice to have a one-up on them.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian