A Big 5 basketball game at the Palestra is hardly ever typical. When the men’s basketball team and Saint Joseph’s met Sunday afternoon at Penn’s historic venue, much of the same had to be expected, right?
Of course, especially in the first meeting between the two city rivals since an incident last February at the Liacouras Center – dubbed Goongate by fans and members of the media – that left a Hawk injured and Owls coach John Chaney suspended.
There were no broken arms or any self-imposed suspensions this time around. But there were some disputed calls, and Chaney was left scratching his head once again as the Owls fell, 59-57, to the Hawks before a near-sellout crowd of 8,505.
Hawks guard Abdulai Jalloh launched a deep two-point attempt with time winding down. Lee’s shot fell short, but forward Rob Ferguson cleaned up the miss with a put-backer off the glass to give the Hawks the lead with two seconds left.
The Owls called a timeout to draw up a final play, but senior guard Mardy Collins’ mid-court heave skipped off the backboard and away to end the game.
Winning this game might have righted the Owls (6-6, 0-2) in Atlantic Ten Conference play. It also could have halted a two-game losing skid. Instead, the Owls were baffled by the Hawks, who shot lights out from three-point range.
Chaney said there was more to the game than that.
“[St. Joe’s] got six calls in a row,” said Chaney of the Owls’ foul trouble late in the game. “A game like this should have ended in the hands of the kids.”
Actually the Hawks were whistled for two personal fouls over the stretch where the Owls were called for six.
Chaney said he had reason to argue anyway. The coach said last season’s incident, where senior forward Nehemiah Ingram committed a hard foul on St. Joe’s John Bryant, had an influence on how this game was officiated.
“I don’t talk to the officials anymore,” Chaney said. “Maybe [I’ll talk to] some Big Ten officials or [Atlantic Coast Conference] officials.”
Officiating had little to do with how the Owls played Sunday, struggling on both ends of the court.
They hit a roadblock from the free-throw line, missing 6 of 9 attempts in the first half alone. The Owls went into their locker room trailing by six, 35-29, at halftime.
Moreover, they couldn’t stop the Hawks’ perimeter game. Jalloh was 6-of-7 in the first half from beyond the arc. The Hawks (6-5, 1-1) sunk 11 of their 17 long-range attempts.
All of that made little difference to the Owls, who played a half-court trap that kept some distance between Jalloh and Lee and the three-point line. Chaney’s new-look defense held Phil Martelli’s bunch to just two three-point attempts in the first 10 minutes after halftime.
“In the first half that’s what they killed us on, those outside shots,” said sophomore guard Mark Tyndale, who finished with 11 points in 40 minutes. “In the second half we closed the door a little bit, put some more pressure on them around the three-point area, which helped us get back into the game.”
The Owls went on a 10-4 run to give themselves a 37-31 lead, their largest of the game. It wasn’t enough down the stretch.
BIG GAME FOR WAYNE
Center Wayne Marshall was a bright spot for Temple. He didn’t start the game because Chaney said he wanted to “calm him down,” but the 6-foot-11 sophomore had a lot to do with the Owls regaining the lead late in the second half. He sunk two consecutive eight-footers in the paint to knot the game at 53 with only a few minutes to play.
On the Owls’ next possession, Marshall was charged with an offensive foul and all momentum swung the Hawks’ way. Marshall had 11 points and six rebounds, but Chaney said his 27 minutes were the most important number.
As he stepped onto the court with three minutes left in the first half, Ingram was heartily booed by the St. Joes-heavy crowd. It was to be expected, Chaney and Martelli agreed in their post-game press conferences. … In six of their last seven games, the Hawks have kept their opponent’s top scorer under his season average. Collins had 12 first-half points but only two in the second half to finish under his season average of 15 points per game. … With the loss, the Owls are 1-2 in Big 5 play and have been eliminated from winning even a share of the Big 5 title.
The Owls play at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday. The Bonnies are at 6-7 and, like the Owls, are still looking for their first A-10 win. Unlike the Owls, the Bonnies have beaten up on their opponents in a significantly weaker schedule. Their wins include home wins against Youngstown State, Canisius, Robert Morris, St. Francis (Pa.) and Central Connecticut, and a road victory at Florida International.
For more photos from the game against St. Joe’s, please visit Temple News staff photographer Steve Gengler’s Web site at www.stephengengler.com/stjoes
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.