If you were thinking Temple had a chance against Saint Joseph’s on Saturday because it’s February, then you must have forgotten the Owls only loss in their favorite month last year was also to the Hawks. The Owls were trampled, 76-53, by St. Joe’s for the second time in three weeks.
Senior guard David Hawkins, the nation’s third leading scorer, was harassed into shooting 5-for-21, scoring a season-low 13 points. His school record of consecutive 20-point games was also snapped at 17.
Hawks coach Phil Martelli used an effective strategy for stopping Hawkins by double-teaming him every time he came off a screen. This tightened the lane, and even when Hawkins tried to drive to the basket, St Joe’s big men were there to stop him.
“Last game they didn’t double as much and sometimes I got tripled,” Hawkins said. “I should have found the open man and I didn’t. I couldn’t find them. And I put so much pressure on myself for this game, and tried to do it myself. I just had a terrible shooting night.”
Temple adjusted defensively from the previous meeting, as coach John Chaney had his team play a 2-3 zone, which aimed at cutting off the wing. With six minutes, 32 seconds left in the first half, Temple was down by just five, but the Hawks used a 15-2 run to close out the half with a 41-23 lead. St. Joseph’s never looked back.
Both Hawkins and sophomore guard Mardy Collins were rankled by the officiating. They didn’t think the game was called one-sided, but they weren’t pleased with some non-calls.
“I’m just going to call it a space of spades,” Hawkins said about referee Joe DeMayo. “The ref with the gray hair, I told one of the dark-haired refs that he never liked me since my freshman year.”
Hawkins insisted DeMayo does not give him a fair shake, because of his physical style of play. With less than eight minutes left in the game Hawkins nailed what he thought was a three, but DeMayo ruled it a two-pointer.
“He came from outside of the gym to call it a two-pointer when someone right behind me called it a three,” Hawkins said.
Through much of the first half, Collins and Hawkins drove inside and forced contact, but didn’t get to the free-throw line. Collins didn’t think the officials were biased, but said, “They was just trying to let us play, but it was to a point that [at times] they were fouling, and it was obvious. But they weren’t calling it.”
After last night’s game against La Salle, Temple has three regular season games left. Then comes the A-10 Tournament, where the Owls have a first-round bye. But in order to win the whole thing, they will most likely face George Washington, then Dayton and St. Joe’s in the final. Temple is 0-4 against those teams this season.
Barring a miracle, the Owls will probably find themselves in the NIT for a third straight season. Unlike past years when the Owls have been selected for the NCAA Tournament with 12 or 13 losses, don’t expect that this year. Temple is saddled with a Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) of 77. Most schools expecting at-large bids from the NCAA Selection Committee generally have an RPI of 45 or lower.
Hamstring hampered Hawkins
Chaney took Hawkins out of the St. Joe’s game with three minutes left. Instead of going to the bench he walked back to the locker room. He said he wasn’t frustrated over the loss, but his body tightened up, so he went to stretch with the trainer.
“My hamstring has been bothering me all week, I didn’t really practice all week, besides just shooting around,” he said.
Jason S. Haslam can be reached at email@example.com.