Lavoy Allen had a double-double midway through the first half.
Yea, it was the kind of game for the sophomore forward.
In the men’s basketball team’s 70-56 victory over St. Bonaventure Sunday afternoon at the Liacouras Center, Allen had 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds to lead the Owls to their eighth straight home win.
The rebounding mark, which included 15 on the defensive side, also went as a building record. Allen also shot 8-8 from the field.
In addition, senior guard Dionte Christmas hit for 18 points and junior guard Ryan Brooks notched 12 points, as Temple (17-9 overall, 9-3 Atlantic Ten Conference) moved into a tie for second place with No. 25 Dayton in the A-10 standings.
The win was a marked improvement from the effort the Owls had Wednesday against Fordham, one that no one in cherry and white as especially pleased about.
“I thought we did a much better job today,” Christmas said. “I thought we did a great job of understanding what we had to do to come out with this win. I thought Lavoy had a great game today.”
That’s a bit of an understatement, as the 6-foot-9 forward from Morrisville, Pa. completely dominated St. Bonaventure (13-13, 4-9), especially in the first half.
“I think last game we came out to a much slower start, so I wanted to be real aggressive this game,” Allen said. “And I thought I did a much better job.”
Coach Fran Dunphy, who’s constantly calling out his star player and asking for more, didn’t shy away from praising his effort this time around.
“He was tremendous,” Dunphy said of Allen. “Hopefully as we get into the later stages of our season, [Allen] is really paying attention to how good he can be and how good our team can be. And he needs absolutely to be one of the leaders.”
Allen helped the Owls jump out to a double-digit lead that went as high as 16 in the first half. While the Bonnies cut the deficit to as little as seven, Brooks, who appears to be heating up from 3-point land after a few off games, quickly ended any hopes of a comeback with a dagger trey near the Temple bench.
And Dunphy has certainly taken notice of Brooks’ timely shooting.
“He’s been doing that for a few years now,” Dunphy said. “I don’t think there’s any question that he’s our best clutch performer. And it’s nice to see him do it again.”
That Brooks 3-pointer pushed the Owls lead back to 11 midway through the second half, and thanks to technical fouls on both Bonnies’ coach Mark Schmidt and junior guard Jonathan Hall and a host of foul-outs, the Owls were able to coast to a victory down the stretch.
Still, Dunphy wasn’t entirely pleased.
“We’re finding ways to win, but I don’t think we’re playing our best basketball,” Dunphy said. “We can run better offense, we can take care of the ball a little bit better. I think our defense is fairly good at this point…that’s saving us right now.”
The defense of the Owls is key, especially with Christmas shooting the ball poorly. The team co-captain hit just two of 10 3-point attempts and shot just 4-15 from the field.
Yet, his personal stats are not really a chief concern.
“Like I said in the beginning of the season, if my team needs to me score 25 or 30 points, everybody knows I’m capable of that,” Christmas said. “But the last couple of weeks I haven’t had to score 25 or 30 points to be successful…we’re a balanced team.”
The balanced effort has helped the Owls vault towards the top of the A-10 standings, as now, they stand just one-half game back of No. 16 Xavier for the top spot.
And yes, the Christmas and the Owls are well aware of that.
“We’ve definitely been paying attention, it’s hard not to,” Christmas said. “But these teams losing, it just shows what kind of league we have. We have a tough league, the Atlantic Ten Championship is up for grabs.”
The Owls’ homestand concludes Thursday at 7 p.m. as they take on La Salle in a Big 5 showdown.
Game Notes: Dionte Christmas bobblehead dolls were given to the first 3,000 fans 14 and over…Christmas said of the giveaway: “it’s cool, I like it a lot”…The game was also Hooter’s birthday, as there were plenty of local mascots on hand to help him celebrate…Sophomore forward Craig Williams played just eight minutes, as he missed all three of his 3-point attempts…The Owls shot just 23.5 percent from 3-point territory in the contest.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Front page photo: John Birk, TTN.