CHARLESTON, S.C.—There’s a reason teams practice their free-throws.
Five players scored in double figures and the men’s basketball team and hit all their free throws down the stretch, as they beat the College of Charleston, 70-65, Saturday afternoon in the Charleston Classic at Carolina First Arena.
The win sends the Owls to the Championship game of the tournament. They will play the winner of the Clemson/TCU matchup tomorrow at 4 p.m.
Last year, the Owls blew a big second half lead and lost to Charleston on a buzzer-beater. This time around, while allowing a 13-point second half lead slip down to three, the Owls didn’t give in.
With under 90 seconds to go and the Owls clinging to a five point lead, senior guard Dionte Christmas, junior guard Ryan Brooks and sophomore forward Lavoy Allen hit all 10 of their free-throw chances to put away Charleston’s hopes of a repeat of last year’s game.
In all, the Cherry and White hit 17 of their 18 free throw attempts, with senior guard Semaj Inge accounting for the lone miss.
That kind of sound play surely didn’t disappoint Temple’s coach.
“We’re really pleased with [the free throw shooting], there’s no question,” Fran Dunphy said. “It’s a good win for us. I thought we did just about everything we wanted to do.”
That line from Dunphy was especially true on the glass, as the Owls out-rebounded the Cougars 47-27 overall and 19-9 on the offense end. In addition, the stellar play came despite the Cougars starting three players taller than any of Owls’ guards, though Allen, who contributed 12 rebounds and 10 points, was the biggest player on the court.
“First of all, Lavoy’s a pretty good player and a very good rebounder and he did a real good job,” Dunphy said. “I’d like to think that our other guys are doing a good job of keeping some of their guys off the glass, so they didn’t have an abundance of offensive rebounds.”
Central to that was freshman guard Ramon Moore, who played 19 minutes, scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
“I was just trying to get in there, battling. We’re kind of small with Sergio out,” Moore said. “[I was trying to] help Lavoy out.”
The local product, who graduated from Southern, sat out most of last season to focus on academics.
“I’m really appreciating the fact that my coaches trust me and put me in there for 20 minutes,” Moore said. “[They] allow me to go out there and play, creating and doing things for teammates.”
Those teammates, with Christmas leading the way with 26 points on 7-16 shooting, made it a true group effort, as Brooks added 11 points and Inge contributed 10 points in his 32 minutes of action.
Freshman forward Michael Eric and sophomore forward Craig Williams also saw time in the contest.
“I don’t think I have to average 25 and 27 points for us to be successful,” Christmas said. “We got guys like Ramon Moore coming off the bench giving you a double-double, Lavoy Allen playing as good as he is, and Semaj and [Luis Guzman] and Ryan. Everybody is giving their all every night, I don’t have to do [everything].”
It’s the first 2-0 start for Temple since the 2000-2001 season.
Senior center Sergio Olmos participated in warm-ups, but didn’t come out in uniform. He was back in a boot in the second half. Dunphy said he didn’t think Olmos would play tomorrow…Allen wore a brace on his knee, but it didn’t seem serious… In Williams’ half run, he went 0-6 from the field.