Temple coach Fran Dunphy wasn’t quite sure what effect his team’s defense had on Towson’s paltry offensive output.
The Tigers missed some open looks, but Temple did hold its opponent to a 23.2 percent shooting clip.
Either way, it worked.
The Owls topped the Tigers, 69-46, Thursday at the Liacouras Center, evening their record at 4-4. The Tigers’ 46 points were the lowest an opponent managed against the Owls this season, and marked the first time the Owls held an opponent under 50 points since they beat Long Beach State, 74-49, last season.
“I thought there were a number of different opportunities that Towson had at the basket, but the ball just didn’t go, and a couple of other decent looks at the perimeter and the ball didn’t go,” Dunphy said. “Is some of that us? I hope so, but I’ll wait until I take a look at the film.”
The Owls struggled to master Towson’s trap, giving up 17 turnovers, but they forced the Tigers ( 3-5) into 14 turnovers. The Owls’ point guards, Luis Guzman and Chris Clark, combined to commit nine turnovers.
“Chris and Lou didn’t handle it as well as I would have liked them to and as well as they’re going to have to the rest of the season,” Dunphy said. “There were some passes from the guard spot to the opposite back of the zone that got picked off from them. They got stripped a couple of times. That can’t happen.”
The Owls didn’t rebound particularly well, either, as they only edged the Tigers, 39-36, on the glass. Post players Sergio Olmos and Lavoy Allen only combined for three rebounds, a statistic Dunphy didn’t find amusing.
“Lavoy, Serge and myself all had the same amount of defensive rebounds,” Dunphy quipped.
Guards Mark Tyndale and Dionte Christmas picked up the slack, reeling in 14 and 11 rebounds, respectively. They each notched a double-double, as Christmas scored a game-high 16 points. Tyndale added 11 for his second straight double-double.
Still, they didn’t dominate the stat sheet, as they have throughout much of the season. Christmas only took 10 shots; Tyndale eight. They entered the game averaging 14.3 and 11.5 shots, respectively.
Tyndale said he and Christmas weren’t looking to shoot less, but took what the defense gave them.
“I just think teams have to play us a little more honest, especially with Ryan Brooks making shots and Lavoy [Allen] scoring in the low-post,” Tyndale said. “They just have to play me and Dionte a little more honest.”
The offense was balanced, as the Owls placed four players in double-figures for the third time this season. Allen tied a career-high with 14 points, Brooks notched 10 and Clark added eight.
“I think any coach will tell you that balance is a good thing,” Dunphy said. “I thought they really concentrated their efforts and tried to stop [Christmas], especially after he made his first three in the first half. I thought they over-played him and they weren’t going to let him catch it easy, and when he did catch it, they were going to be right in his face.”
That first three-pointer came 2:20 into the game and gave the Owls’ a 5-2 lead, which they never relinquished.
The Owls went up 11-4, but only scored one point – a free throw by Tyndale – over the next three minutes, as the Tigers closed the score to 12-10 midway through the period.
Brooks then hit a trey, sparking an 18-5 run that put the Owls up, 30-15, with 1:35 left in the first half.
The Tigers pulled within 11 points, at 40-29, midway through the second half, but the Owls never let them get any closer.
The Owls conclude their three-game home stand against Villanova Sunday at the Liacouras Center. The Owls haven’t beaten the Wildcats since Dec. 4, 2004, when they edged out a 53-52 victory.
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.