Five Owls Score In Double Figures in All-Hands On Deck Victory
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/27/2022 –
The teams came into the game fighting for fourth place in the American standings which means an off day in the conference tournament. That spot belongs to the Temple Owls now by virtue of a gritty 75 – 70 win over the Tulane Green Wave at the Liacouras Center. The Owls had five players score in double figures led by Damian Dunn with 19 points. Fifteen of those points came in the second half. He was good on 7 of 8 free throws.
This was a physical, choppy game. Temple Coach Aaron McKie said prior to the season that his team would have strength in numbers. Today, he needed that in scoring and rebounding. The Cherry and White is still short-handed due to injury. Every player who saw game action contributed to the boxscore in some fashion.
“I knew this was going to be a difficult game because both of us are fighting for that bye, both of us are trying to move up in the standings,” McKie said. “We played hard, but we didn’t play smart. We had too many careless turnovers that kept those guys around. We got undisciplined. Luckily for us we had a lot of major contributors to help us prevail.”
In scoring the Owls had Jahlil White record a double-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 steals. Both Tai Strickland and Zach Hicks contributed 15 points, with Hicks making 4 of 8 from beyond the arc, Strickland 6 of 8 from the free throw line. Hysier Miller added 10 points, 8 in the second half. He led the team in assists with 6 helps. Every Owls player on the floor took down at least 2 rebounds. In addition to White, Hicks grabbed 8 boards and Nick Jourdain swept 5. Temple outrebounded Tulane 45 – 28.
But on the other side it was all hands on deck as well with 21 turnovers. All but one Cherry and White player had a miscue or seven. The Owls were whistled for 23 fouls.
However in the end, the defense got the team over the hump. Tulane was limited to 34% shooting for the game (18 – 52).
“At the end of the day it came down to who was getting the stops,” Dunn said. “That is something we take pride in. We got a lot of key stops late in the game.”
Of the 70 points scored by the Green Wave 27 came from the free throw line. Jaylen Forbes scored a team-high 19 points getting three from distance and 6 of 7 from the charity stripe. Kevin Cross sank 9 of 10 foul shots on the way to 13 points and a team-best 8 boards. Jalen Cook scored 14 points.
Early in game the Green Wave got out to a hot start. Not so for Temple. By the first media timeout the Owls made 1 of their first 4 shots and turned the ball over four times. Trailing 8 – 0 McKie inserted Zach Hicks into the line up. He brought instant offense as he scored 9 consecutive points giving Temple a 12 – 8 lead.
“His shot making ability energizes our guys,” said McKie about Hicks and his ability to score. “He energizes the crowd. I like him in that role coming off the bench and letting it fly. He is getting better on both ends of the floor. He is making a concerted effort to defend, rebound the ball, and making shots for us.”
The game settled down into a battle where neither team could get separation. Tulane lead 31 – 29 at halftime. Miller got the Cherry and White off to a good second half start getting 8 of the first 11 Temple points on the way to a 40 – 34 lead for the Owls. From there the lead stayed between 1 and 5 points for the hosts. Once Temple got a 6 point lead with just under two minutes on the clock. The Owls appeared to have the game under control after a Dunn three-point play with 40.1 seconds remaining and a 71 – 66 lead. Nick Jourdain upped the advantage to 6 points at the 33.8 mark.
Game over? Not so fast! The Green Wave scored four of the next 5 points and took possession with a steal as 12 seconds showed on the clock. On the ensuing play the Green Wave had a player open with a good look at a three, but the pass was too high to reach. A huge sigh of relief from the 4,915 at the Liacouras Center was heard. Dunn closed the game with 2 free throws.
Tulane drops to 12 – 13 and is 9 – 7 in conference.
Temple improves to 16 – 10, and is 9 – 6 in the American. Two games remain on their regular season schedule, at Houston then at home for USF. As of now the Owls have a bye in the conference tournament in Fort Worth. Wait for two more games to tell the whole story.
Written By: Glenn Papazian