After they were blown out by then No. 1 Kansas at the beginning of the month, the men’s basketball team responded with a 73-46 blowout win over St. Joseph’s.
Three days after they were upset by Charlotte, Temple responded in a big way by handling Big 5 rival LaSalle 64-52 Saturday afternoon at the Liacouras Center.
A day after legendary Temple coach John Chaney was inducted into the Big 5 Hall of Fame, the Owls used Chaney’s staple of tough defense to hold the Explorers to under 30 percent shooting.
“I think Temple was the better team from beginning to end,” LaSalle coach Dr. John Giannini. “Temple was more physical inside. Once again they had another great defensive game. I think the way they guard the ball is extremely effective and we just weren’t up to their challenge.”
The Owls were as four players scored in double figures helping Temple respond from their upset loss in Charlotte Wednesday night. The win improves the Owls record to 18-4 and 6-1 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“After a bad performance against Charlotte I just wanted to step up and my team needed me today to step up against the other big guys,” sophomore forward Michael Eric.
Eric did just that as he tied a career-high with 13 points on 6-9 shooting in just 19 minutes. With Temple leading by just six at halftime, Eric scored four points as Temple opened the second half with an 8-0 run.
“He’s doing a good job. He’s getting better as a player,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said of Eric. “He’s such a novice at the game still; he’s working at it and he’s a big part of what we want to be.”
Dunphy doesn’t want his offense to be just five deep and he got that today on a day when guards senior Ryan Brooks and sophomore Juan Fernandez struggled from the field.
Sophomore guard Ramone Moore scored 14 points on 7-11 shooting in just 17 minutes of action. Freshman forward Rahlir Jefferson made all four of his attempts to tie a career-high of nine points.
“I think in so many games this year we’ve had really good performances off the bench,” Dunphy said. “I think that’s what you need going forward here that you need guys coming off the bench and really doing a good job playing their role defensively. We were struggling a little bit offensively and Ramone Moore really bailed us out.”
Moore’s 14 points are his highest point total since he scored a career-high 17 points against Bowling Green on December 28. Between then, Moore has not reached double figures.
“I hope that he’s getting confident,” Dunphy said of Moore. “He basically knows when his minutes of coming. He’s knows he’s the fourth guard right now and when he’s ready to go he’s ready for that. I think it’s the confidence thing more than anything else.”
Against Charlotte, the Owls lived and died by the three-point shot. They attempted 35 shots from behind the three-point line making just 11 of them. Today, the Owls scored 36 points in the paint led by Eric’s 13 and 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists from junior forward Lavoy Allen, his seventh double-double of the season.
“I think every game that should be a mindset but with Lavoy and Mike in foul trouble down in Charlotte, we were settling for a lot of threes. In practice we worked on [getting the ball inside] so I think we did a good job against LaSalle today.
“I think it’s very important for myself, Scootie, Rahlir and other guys like Craig coming off the bench just doing a good job and bringing energy. Usually our starting team gets out on a fast start but today they needed our help and I think we came in and did a good job.”
Temple’s defense also did a nice job shutting down an Explorers team that has some firepower on offense, holding them to just 29.8 percent shooting from the field.
Senior guard Rodney Green, the A-10’s leading active scorer and second in the conference in points per game, was held to just 13 points on 5-16 shooting. Green was also 0-6 from three-point range.
Freshman center Aaric Murray, who was averaging just less than 13 points with seven rebounds and nearly three blocks a game, scored just 11 points on 4-13 shooting.
“Rodney’s a very difficult matchup for most teams and certainly for us he has been,” Dunphy said. “I’m pleased with how we defended him.”
“They’re a well-coached offensive team that really knows their roles and know what they’re looking for,” Giannini said. “I thought their defense was pretty consistent throughout the game.”
The Owls are back in action Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center against Duquesne, a match up of last year’s Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship. Temple defeated the Dukes, 69-64, for their second straight conference tournament crown.
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.
Game Notes: Chaney, former Explorers coach Speedy Morris and former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino were honored at halftime in recognition of their induction into the Big 5 Hall of Fame… Today’s attendance was announced at 8,501.