Normally, when a team holds the conference’s fifth leading scorer to a paltry three points, the coach is going to be pleased.
Well, not every coach is Fran Dunphy.
Thanks in large put to a stalwart defensive effort on Charlotte senior guard Leemire Goldwire, the Owls eased past the 49ers, 75-61, at the Liacorous Center Wednesday.
Junior guard Dionte Christmas led the way with 19 points and sophomore guard Ryan Brooks followed suit with 16 of his own off the bench. Freshman forward Lavoy Allen chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds — all on the defensive end.
But despite the seemingly simple victory, one in which Temple (15-12, 8-5 A-10) trailed for a grand total of one minute and two seconds, Dunphy wasn’t all smiles. He specifically singled out the teams’ star players, Christmas and senior guard Mark Tyndale, for their sloppy play.
“[Tyndale] has to make better decisions, he’s got to play better than [he did],” Dunphy said. “He made some unforced errors that just can’t happen. His second foul driving it to the basket was ridiculous. He had Semaj Inge open on his left, give him the ball.”
Dunphy added: “Dionte Christmas trying to dunk the ball in the first half, what are you, kidding? How about you lay it up, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s called two points. Who cares about dunking it, just lay it up.”
And although Dunphy was not completely satisfied, he certainly took notice of the way his team defended Goldwire — who came into the game averaging 18.9 points per game with 97 made three-pointers, good enough for second most in the Atlantic Ten Conference. At the same time, Dunphy chalked up some of the Owls’ defensive success to Charlotte (15-12, 6-7) simply not shooting the ball well.
“I think it’s always a combination of [Temple’s defense and Charlotte missing shots],” Dunphy said. “But for the most part, we did a good job. But I’m sure if you ask Goldwire, he’s say that he didn’t have a great night tonight.”
Christmas was selected to cover Goldwire for the most of the game, but he was quick to compliment his teammates efforts when they went head-to-head with the 49ers’ premiere scorer.
“I just had to pay attention to every detail today, make sure I couldn’t let [Goldwire] get open looks,” Christmas said. “And I thought when I was off of him, Mark [Tyndale] did a good job, Ryan Brooks, all those guys, did a good job of paying attention to that detail as well.”
Goldwire also shot 0-for-7 from downtown, which contributed to the 49ers shooting just 27.6 percent from beyond the three-point line, a marked improvement for Temple. The Owls came into the game last in the A-10 in three-point defense, giving up 204 trey’s overall and letting opponents shoot an average of 38 percent from long range.
“I’d like to think that we had something to do with that,” Dunphy said. “It’s a little bit of a combination, but I’ll take those numbers, percentage-wise, on three’s.”
But now the focus shifts from Charlotte to the Owls’ cross-town rivals in Saint Joseph’s. And revenge will be on the Owls’ minds Sunday at the Palestra, as they look to avenge their crushing, last-second defeat to the Hawks in January.
“Coach Dunphy never lets us forget,” Allen said. “When we lost, he always brings that back up.”
And of course, like it always does, the game will mean just a little bit more than wins and losses.
“We’re going to try to go into the St. Joe’s game [thinking that] it’s another game,” Christmas said. “But in the back of everyone’s mind, this game means more than anything. It means more than what everybody says it is.”
The A-10 Tournament will remain in Atlantic City in 2009, it was there last year and will be there again this year … Tyndale was invited to attend the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which showcases senior basketball players to professional scouts … With La Salle and Richmond both winning their games tonight, the Owls still remain in a three-way tie for third place in the A-10. The top four teams get a bye in the first round of the A-10 Tournament.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at email@example.com.
Read about sophomore Ryan Brooks’ performance against Charlotte: “Building Brooks”
Read about the women’s win over Saint Louis: “Staley’s squad remains atop A-10 with win over Saint Louis”