Redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore scored a season-low three points, but tied a career high with eight assists in the Owls’ 78-59 win against Duquesne on Saturday afternoon.
On a night when the Atlantic Ten Conference’s leading scorer, redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore, didn’t have his best shooting performance, it was up to senior guard Juan Fernandez and junior guard Khalif Wyatt to carry the scoring load.
The backcourt duo didn’t have much of a problem putting the ball in the net as Wyatt’s game-high 24 points and Fernandez’s 20 paced Temple (21-5, 10-2 A-10) in a 78-59 victory against A-10 opponent Duquesne (15-11, 6-6 A-10) Saturday afternoon at the Liacouras Center. The Owl’s victory was their 10th in a row, but it did not come as easily as the score may show.
Moore struggled to find his shot early and forced him to become more of a facilitator as he finished the game tied with a career-high eight assists. With Moore struggling, the scoring load was dumped on Wyatt and Fernandez who proved they could carry the load when their go-to-guy isn’t on.
Coach Fran Dunphy praised the performance of Fernandez, who struggled early in the season with his shot but went 7-for-9 from the floor on Saturday, including 6-for-7 from behind the arc.
“[Fernandez] obviously shot it tremendously, 6-for-7 on three’s is outstanding and he goes for six assists and only one turnover as well, he played very well,” Dunphy said. “He got himself in a little bit of foul trouble and we would’ve rather had him in the lineup a few more minutes than, but I thought he was terrific.
Much of the scoring throughout the season has come from “The Big Three” in Moore, Fernandez, and Wyatt, but in the second half there was an eight-minute stretch when the only players who scored were junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, junior guard TJ DiLeo, sophomore guard Aaron Brown and redshirt-freshman forward Anthony Lee.
Dunphy was quick to compliment his role players who sometimes have to take a back seat to the three guards who do most of the scoring.
“I thought that was very important,” Dunphy said. “[Lee] did a great job on the and-one, Brown’s jumper, [Hollis-Jefferson’s] stretch was great where he made a jumper, run out and another great drive to the basket, he was terrific. [DiLeo] has been very solid for us though I’m not surprised by his ability to make plays and do good work.”
The Owls help Duquesne to a shooting percentage of 37.9 percent, while Temple shot 57.7 percent from the floor and 52.6 percent from behind the three-point line for the game.
Along with playing arguably his best game of the season, Fernandez once again etched himself in the Temple record books. With his six assists, Fernandez became the sixth player in Temple history to achieve both the 1,000 point mark, and the 400 assist plateau. Fernandez admitted that he did not know of what he had accomplished until after the game.
“It’s all right,” Fernandez said about his achievement. “I didn’t know about that you just told me, the 1,000 points people were talking about so I knew about that, it’s one of those things that you just enjoy but, the most important thing like I said is to keep winning and keep the winning streak alive.”
Temple has a big week coming up with road games against not only A-10 rivals, but Big-5 rivals La Salle and St. Joseph’s. Temple beat both of those teams by double digits at home earlier this season, but Wyatt said he understands that the city games mean something not only for postseason positioning, as Temple is close to clinching a first round by in the A-10 tournament, but for city bragging rights.
“It’s a big week for us playing two city teams, I mean we need to keep preparing for teams one game at a time, keep being ready it’s just another game,” Wyatt said. “I mean it’s always a little added because of the city you know a lot of the guys, when it comes down to it we to just prepare for it like it’s another game and keep stringing together these wins.”
Anthony Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.