For the first time since the Penn State game Dec. 5, the men’s basketball team failed to break 50 points.
But like that game, Temple found a way to win, as the Owls defeated Dayton, 49-41.
The Owls improved to 23-5 overall and 11-2 in the Atlantic Ten Conference. The Flyers dropped to 18-9 overall and 7-6 in the A-10.
It was Dayton’s lowest point total since a 59-38 loss to George Washington on Jan. 18, 1997. Entering the game, the Flyers averaged 70.3 points per game.
For Temple, the win marked the eighth time this season the Owls have held an opposing team 20 points or more below its scoring average. The Owls held the Flyers to 26.8 percent shooting from the field for the game, the lowest field-goal percentage by a Temple opponent this season.
“I know it didn’t look pretty from an offensive standpoint, for either team,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “I’ll wait and make a judgment about how well we were defensively until after I see the film, but I thought Dayton really guarded us hard and got in our face and made it really hard for us to run any offense.”
Neither team could buy a basket in the first half. Dayton shot 16.1 percent from the field and connected on just 5 of its 31 shot attempts. Temple did not fare much better, making just four more shots in as many attempts to lead, 19-13, at halftime. The Owls and the Flyers were deadlocked in the rebounding column at 24 all, and each team’s leading scorer – junior forward Lavoy Allen for Temple and junior forward Chris Wright for Dayton – had six points. Allen had pulled in 10 rebounds in the first 20 minutes, however, and finished just shy of a double-double with nine points and 17 rebounds.
“I thought Dayton had a lot of opportunities in the first half that just didn’t go,” Dunphy said, “and I thought we did, too. I thought both teams were really missing an ingredient in terms of finishing at the rim.”
“I think it started off with a lot of missed layups on both sides,” Allen said. “Everyone was missing. It wasn’t just one or two guys. I don’t know what it was. It was just the way the game went.
“At the end, it was very physical,” Allen added. “They wouldn’t let us run our sets, so we tried to get stops at the end. It was a very physical game.”
Temple opened the second half on a 14-9 run to build an 11-point lead – its largest of the game – with 13 minutes, 22 seconds remaining.
But Dayton would gradually chip away at the Owls’ lead. Normally reliable free-throw shooters like senior guard Ryan Brooks and sophomore guard Juan Fernandez – who shoot 80.2 percent and 85.5 percent from the foul line, respectively – each missed a foul shot later in the second half. As a team, the Owls shot 61.9 percent from the free-throw line.
“We obviously got ourselves to the [foul] line in the second half, but we didn’t shoot it great at the foul line,” Dunphy said. “It seemed like every time we went, we went 1-for-2.”
And those misses, along with a few timely late 3-pointers from Dayton senior guard Rob Lowery, got the Flyers to within four points with 39.9 seconds left.
Temple travels to La Salle for its next game, a 2 p.m. tipoff at Tom Gola Arena Sunday. The Owls would clinch the Big 5 title with a win.
Game Notes: Sophomore guard Ramone Moore led both teams with 13 points. He has now led Temple in scoring six of the last seven games…Senior guard Luis Guzman tied a career high in assists with seven. He also did not commit a turnover for the third straight game…Dayton was 12-0 this season when it held an opponent below 60 points…The Flyers were also 15-4 when outrebounding an opponent. They outrebounded the Owls 45-42…Dayton had won the last three meetings against Temple before tonight’s win…Dayton has not beaten a Top 25 team on the road since Dec. 8, 2007 versus then- No. 11 Louisville.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.