The opening minute and a half of Temple’s Big 5 contest with La Salle featured the second revival in as many seasons of an age-old gentleman’s agreement. Both student sections would dump a few hundred dollars, it was agreed upon, and drape the floor of the Palestra with crepe streamers of each school’s respective colors when each team sank its first bucket of the contest.
In accordance to the old tradition, shooters from each team overstepped the free-throw line on the bench technical foul calls that would follow. In Big 5 fashion, the early-game shenanigans set the tone for the contest, which Temple snared, 58-57, at the University of Pennsylvania’s 87-year-old Palestra.
“Playing at the Palestra, it’s a legendary gym,” junior guard Quenton DeCosey said. “We had a good crowd out there tonight from both sides … It was a great atmosphere in a big game.”
After posting a 4-of-26 mark from 3-point range last Sunday in its 70-56 win against Long Island University-Brooklyn, Temple (5-3, 2-1 Big 5) fired early and often from long range, hitting 5 of 8 attempts in the first half, and 6 of 11 from beyond the arc overall.
DeCosey knocked down each of his three 3-point buckets in the half en route to 15 first-half points. He led all scorers with 19 points, sinking 4 of 8 attempts from the field along with 8 of 9 free-throw opportunities. Junior forward Jaylen Bond followed suit, posting nine of his 11 points in the second half, while pulling in five rebounds in the game.
“He goes 8 for 9 at the line and they weren’t going to give him a whole lot of shots in the second half,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “They set their defense to try to shut him down. He was really good tonight. He was pretty good on the defensive end, too. He had a tough assignment with [La Salle guard Jordan] Price.”
When La Salle (4-4, 0-2 Big 5) habitually cut down Temple’s lead in the second half, which never exceeded a six-point difference, the Owls countered with an offense that did just enough for the majority of the latter half, allowing La Salle 30 seconds with the lead in the period.
“We’d love to spread the ball around,” Dunphy said. “… But we had six field goals in the second half. That’s not very efficient offense.”
In the end, Price failed to hit the basket with the would-be tying jump shot for the Explorers, which sophomore Josh Brown rebounded before Price was forced to foul him intentionally. Brown hit both free throws, stretching Temple’s lead to a four-point difference and, although La Salle guard Kahid Lewis hit a 3-pointer as time expired, the Owls had their fifth win of the season when the buzzer pierced through the building.
La Salle averaged 42.9 percent shooting (21 of 49) from the floor, but missed 7 of 19 free throws, while Temple capitalized on 18 of its 20 opportunities from the line.
“We have a hard time putting the ball in the basket,” Explorers coach Dr. Joe Giannini said. “We will defend you, we will be unselfish, we will pass, we will rebound, we will fight, we will play good basketball, but we need to make more baskets.”
La Salle had four players total double-figures in scoring, and outrebounded Temple, 34-28. While outshooting Temple from the floor across the board, La Salle’s 63 percent clip from the free-throw line helped make the difference on the score line, as did the Explorers’ habitual hesitance to shoot the basketball on an open look, Giannini said.
“I tell them to shoot,” Giannini said. “I can’t possibly tell them to shoot the ball more, individually and collectively. … I think they’re pretty good shooters. Jordan Price is a great shooter. … There’s some evidence these guys can shoot the ball, but we’re electing not to the whole season.”
While Temple won the game, Dunphy said the team’s 34.7 percent average from the floor is a problem that needs to be addressed for its upcoming schedule, which starts with an 8 p.m. matchup with Towson University (7-1) Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.
Temple’s 18-of-20 (90 percent) clip from the free-throw line was its best of the season, surpassing its prior high mark of 77 percent (20 of 26) against Penn on Nov. 25 … After failing to score and fouling out Wednesday in Temple’s 58-56 loss to St. Joseph’s (4-4, 1-1), Bond hit double digits for the second time this season with his 11 points … After hitting 3 of 6 attempts from the floor for eight points in the first half, senior guard Will Cummings was held scoreless (0 for 5) in the latter half.
Andrew Parent can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Andrew_Parent23.