When junior guard Mardy Collins has a poor night offensively, the members of the men’s basketball team say they still expect to win. They delivered on that expectation last night.
Behind dominant first-half performance by their first-year starters – forward Wayne Marshall and guard Mark Tyndale – the Owls beat Dayton, 61-51, in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament.
Marshall scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds in the first half and Tyndale had nine points and two assists to help the Owls (16-12) overcome a difficult shooting night for Collins, an all-America candidate. Collins shot just 1-for-11 before halftime and 4-for-18 for the game, but scored 16 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 18 points.
“I thought it was sort of deceptive both ways,” acting coach Dan Leibovitz said. “I saw [Dayton] had only hit one three at halftime and I figured they’d start making some shots. Then I looked at [the stats for] Mardy, and he’d only hit one shot, so I thought he’d start hitting some shots. For Mardy, that didn’t happen, but we had some other guys step up.”
The game looked to be an easy win for Temple early, as the Owls established an 8-5 lead after four minutes of play. They then shut the Flyers out over the next 10:33. The Owls took their largest lead of the game on a free throw by junior center Keith Butler to make it 28-8.
The Flyers surged back after halftime. After Collins was pulled with three fouls, freshman forward Norman Plummer’s three-point play pulled the Flyers within six points with 11:29 remaining. Collins returned, and the Owls outscored the Flyers 11-6 over the next four minutes.
“We had to kind of weather the storm without Mardy,” Leibovitz said. “We have to try to make better decisions.”
Sophomore guard Dustin Salisbery admitted he didn’t make great decisions. Over a three-minute stretch in the first half, he committed four turnovers and badly missed a three-point attempt. He redeemed himself in the second half. With just over five minutes to play and the Flyers within four, Salisbery hit a three-pointer from the left corner to give the Owls a seven-point cushion.
Marshall was held to zero points and one rebound in the second half, but Tyndale continued to contribute. Tyndale, who was named to the A-10 Rookie Team this week, finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and two steals. He also shot uncharacteristically well from the field, hitting half of his 10 attempts.
“We want those guys to grow as players,” Collins said. “Since the beginning of the season they’ve just been growing and growing. I struggled a little shooting and they picked up the slack.”
The Owls face A-10 West Division champion George Washington today. The Colonials (20-7) beat Fordham, 79-63, yesterday.
The Owls scored 61 points but hit just 15 field goals. They shot 26-for-33 from the free throw line compared to the Flyers’ sparse 9-for-13. It was the most free throws the Owls have made since a win at Duquesne on Feb. 16.
When asked to guess suspended coach John Chaney’s reaction to the guard’s first-half struggles, Collins said he was unsure whether the coach had seen them.
“He was probably sitting there screaming at the TV, if he was even watching [the game] on TV,” Collins said. “A lot of times, coach doesn’t even watch the game until after it’s over.”
The Flyers shot 25 percent against the matchup zone in the first half. … The Owls won the rebounding battle, 42-28. … Dayton owned the lead in fastbreak points, as usual, 13-2. … Leibovitz is now 3-1 acting as head coach. … For the 2:47 that Collins was on the bench, the Owls were outscored, 10-0, committed three fouls and turned the ball over twice.
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com