BRONX, N.Y. – It may have taken a little longer than expected, but the men’s basketball team finally built up a big lead against Fordham and won, 62-45.
With the win, the No. 16 Owls (17-3) increased their winning streak to six games. More importantly, they remain the lone undefeated team in the Atlantic Ten Conference at 5-0. Temple is off to its best start since the 1993-1994 season. Those Owls started 17-3 but then lost their next game. The Rams (2-16 overall, 0-6 A-10) have now lost 11 games in a row.
Early on, Fordham grabbed a brief 11-10 lead thanks to forward Chris Gaston. Gaston scored eight of the Rams’ first 11 points and finished with 16 points. Gaston, Fordham’s leading scorer, also tops all A-10 freshmen.
Despite shooting just 26.9 percent from the field in the first half, Fordham trailed by just three points, 22-19, at halftime. The Owls shot 28 percent themselves in the first 20 minutes, and things did not look like they were going their way at the start of the second half when junior forward Lavoy Allen picked up his third foul. Allen went to the bench until 8 minutes remained in the game. He did not score a point in the game and grabbed just three rebounds.
In his absence, sophomore forward/center Micheal Eric and sophomore forward Scootie Randall picked up the scoring inside. Eric scored nine points, and Randall recorded a career-high 12 points. He connected on four of his five 3-point attempts.
“I think sometimes we do start the game a little lazy,” Randall said. “I think missing shots sometimes frustrates players. We came together at the half and said our shots were going to start falling. I think we’ve got to start coming out at the tip with energy.
“I think that’s my job, to bring the energy,” Randall added. “When I do get open, I need to make shots. I think they focus on Lavoy or Mike in the post, and my big will try to help, so I’ll be open on the kickback.”
Sophomore guard Juan Fernandez led all Temple scorers with 13 points. He hit back-to-back 3’s to open up the second half and give the Owls a little breathing room. Halfway through the second half, however, he left the game and did not return after injuring his head. Senior guard and Bronx-native Luis Guzman also left the game with an injury. Guzman hurt his ankle in practice yesterday and then re-injured it in the first half. He started the scoring for the Owls by recording the team’s first five points.
Without Guzman and with Fernandez out, sophomore guard Ramone Moore and redshirt freshman T.J. DiLeo combined for 11 points.
“The guys off the bench did a terrific job,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “Fernandez did a great job hitting those two 3’s to start the second half and give us some separation. When we really got the separation was when Scootie and T.J. came in. Those two guys specifically came off the bench in the second half, but I don’t want to diminish Fernandez’s efforts. He got dinged pretty good. Hopefully, he’ll be OK. I don’t want to play many minutes without him.”
The Owls return to action Wednesday at Charlotte at 7 p.m.
Game Notes: Temple has won five of its last seven games against Fordham…The Rams have now lost 49 straight games against ranked opponents. Fordham last defeated a Top 25 team Feb. 26, 1978. The Rams defeated No. 18 Georgetown…Fordham interim coach John Grasso, 29, is the youngest coach in NCAA Division I coach in the country…The Rose Hill Gymnasium is the oldest gym still in use by a Division I basketball team.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at email@example.com.