No doubt about it

The Owls lead from start to finish, cruising past Penn, 78-53, in a Big 5 showdown at the Palestra.

Sometimes it’s just that easy.

Behind 25 points and nine rebounds from senior guard Dionte Christmas and 17 points from sophomore forward Craig Williams, the men’s basketball team had little difficulty with Penn in a 78-53 victory Wednesday night at the Palestra.

The Owls never trailed in the game, as a quick 25-7 lead right out of the gate proved to be too much for the Quakers to handle.

Central to that run and the Owls’ overall domination of the contest was the team’s 3-point shooting, as Christmas connected on all five of his 3-point attempts, with Williams also adding five of his own. Junior guard Ryan Brooks also joined the party, hitting two treys in two attempts and finishing with eight points for the night.

On the whole, the Owls hit a season-high 13 field goals from downtown, shooting a stunning 68 percent from beyond the line.

A humble and soft-spoken Williams attempted 10 of those 3-pointers, as he set a career high in points and three pointers made.

“I’m just trying to make good decisions,” Williams said. “Some shots were not as good as others, but that’s how it is.”

But, half of those shots found the bottom of the net, and that led to the Penn defense paying more attention to players that aren’t Christmas.

And that is something that can only be good for the Temple offense.

“One of the reasons I’m having big first halves is [because] of Craig, and Lavoy, those guys,” Christmas said. “Teams [can’t] just focus on me, they have to focus on Craig, Lavoy, [Ryan] Brooks. Everybody’s playing great basketball right now.”

That is certainly the case for Temple (9-6, 1-1 Big 5), as coach Fran Dunphy’s squad beat their cross-town rivals for the second straight time and advanced their all-time record to 42-22 against Penn (3-8, 0-2 Big Five).

The game also marked the second time Dunphy returned the Palestra to face Penn since leaving the school to coach Temple in 2006.

The return was not as crazy this time around.

“I knew it was coming, but it was almost too much to take, that night,” Dunphy said. “And I’m not sure whether it was fair to the guys on the team, I felt bad for those guys. It was a crazy night. [But] tonight was much different…It was much, much easier this time around.”

In fact, he argued that it’s really not a big deal.

“It’s not novel anymore,” Dunphy said. “It’s what it is.”

The Owls were also able to hold Penn’s leading scorer, guard Tyler Bernardini, to just four points on 2-9 shooting from the field.

“I think everyone’s pretty attuned to how good a player Bernardini is,” Dunphy said. “You’ve got to find him, and I think we did a pretty good job throughout.”

The win marked the Owls’ fourth victory in a row, and heading into the remained of the Atlantic Ten Conference portion of the schedule, the team looks to be finding its groove at the right time.

But just don’t tell Dunphy that his team is in that kind of zone.

“I guess that’s still to be determined,” he said. “While it looks like we’re cooking on some cylinders, we have to be very attentive to every detail.”

The Owls return to action Saturday against Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

Game Notes

The Owls held a 37-28 advantage on the boards…After not getting off the bench Sunday against La Salle, junior guard Luis Guzman played 11 minutes and scoring five points…Freshman guard Ramone Moore also played, though, his three minutes came when the game was well in-hand…The Owls are now wearing a white patch on their jersey’s commemorating Temple’s 125 year celebration…Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) was in attendance, as was former Owl Mark Tyndale.

Todd Orodenker can be reached at

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