Outside the Liacouras Center, snow flurries began to fall about an hour before tipoff.
Inside the arena, nothing was really falling for either basketball team.
But it was the Temple Owls who squeaked out a few more points and defeated Penn State 45-42 Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
“I hope that we’re getting better every game we play,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “Certainly defense is our strength right now; offensively we have a ways to go. Anytime you can get a win against a good basketball team, anytime, anyplace, anywhere, we feel very fortunate.”
The Owls were very fortunate to be in this game after the first half. After shooting 28 percent in a loss against St. Johns, Temple (6-2) shot just 33 percent in the first half. Luckily, the Nittany Lions shot 39 percent and the game was tied at 22 after 20 minutes.
The second half wasn’t much better. Actually, it was worse. Temple shot 27 percent from the field compared to Penn State’s 30 percent.
“It was going to be a possession game,” Nittany Lions coach Ed DeChellis said. “You make a mistake on a possession and it’s going to be costly. It wasn’t going to be loose out there; it was going to be tight.”
The contest remained tight all the way through as Temple held a slim 43-42 lead with under a minute to play in regulation.
Senior guard Ryan Brooks slipped and turned the ball over when he attempted to drive the lane which allowed Penn State (5-2) a chance to take the final shot.
But Penn State freshman guard/forward Bill Edwards was called for an offensive foul as he pushed off Owls freshman forward Rahlir Jefferson.
Temple got the ball back and increased their lead to three as Brooks knocked down two foul shots.
Penn State had 11 seconds left to tie the game but Nittany Lions leading scorer junior guard Talor Battle slipped near the three-point line and Penn State was unable to get off a shot on their final two possessions.
“I was proud of how we guarded him,” Dunphy said of Battle. “We knew how good he is. I thought we did a very good job on Talor Battle who is a very good basketball player.”
The Owls were dominant on the offensive glass outrebounding Penn State 17-7 en route to 16 second chance points.
“They won the game on the glass,” DeChellis said. “I think there last couple of baskets was on offensive rebounds and that was disappointing for us. I don’t think it was a great offensive performance by either team but they made plays off the offensive glass when they had to make them.”
Junior forward Lavoy Allen led the team with seven offensive rebounds and 12 total for the game.
It was Brooks who paced the Owls offense. He was the only Owl in double figures scoring 19 of Temple’s 45 points while adding six rebounds.
“I tried to just read what the defensive was giving me,” he said. “My teammates and coaches said not to hold my head down high and keep plugging away.”
Dunphy put senior guard Luis Guzman on Battle for the first half but then went to Brooks in the second who did a strong job guarding Battle who scored just four points in the second half. Battle, who was averaging 20 points a game entering the match up, finished with just eight points on 3-15 shooting.
“I just tried to focus on staying on his hip,” Brooks said. “He’s a very quick player, very explosive scorer. We know he can definitely score the ball, put the ball in the basket.
“Being a leader of this team I have excepted that role of stepping up to the plate and guarding the best player on each team and my teammates and coaches believe that I can step up to that challenge and I look to forward to that every game.”
The Owls are now 6-2 which marks the first time since 1999-2000 that they have won six of their first eight games.
They travel to Miami (OH) Tuesday before returning to the Liacoruas Center to battle Villanova Sunday afternoon.
Pete Dorchak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Game Notes: Micheal Eric, who played three minutes at Western Michigan on Tuesday, did not play today. He suffered a sprained MCL against Ball State and missed the next two games at the Palestra… Today’s scoring total marks the second lowest combined total in Liacouras Center history. The lowest was January 20, 2000 when Temple beat Penn- Dunphy’s former team- 44-40. Temple President Ann Weaver Hart was in attendance for today’s game… Attendance was announced at 7,012.