Two minutes into tonight’s game, coach Fran Dunphy called a timeout and started to substitute players in off the bench.
The men’s basketball team trailed by five points at that time. The Duquesne Dukes (11-11 overall, 2-6 Atlantic Ten Conference) would extend their lead to eight.
But Dunphy’s strategy worked, as No. 19 Temple (19-4 overall, 7-1 A-10) pulled even with 9 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the first half, grabbed its first lead 28 seconds later and won, 76-60.
“I don’t think we started the game off really well,” Dunphy said. “So, we went to the bench. I get very unhappy when I don’t think guys are working as hard as they can and really staying focused. I thought we lost the focus early. I think that was just a statement by the coaches to say we need to get our act together.
“I think [all coaches] fly by the seat of our pants,” Dunphy added. “I was just throwing guys in there and hoping they’d do well.”
The Owls’ bench outscored Duquesne’s 39-18 for the game but 25-6 in the first half. Sophomore guard Ramone Moore led all Temple scorers through the first 20 minutes with 10 points. He finished with a team-high 15 points, while freshman forward Rahlir Jefferson and redshirt freshman T.J. DiLeo added career highs in points with 11 and seven, respectively. Their points could not have come at a better time, as senior guard Ryan Brooks and sophomore guard Juan Fernandez combined to play just eight minutes in the first half. Each player picked up two quick fouls and sat on the bench with no points. Fernandez scored to open the second half but finished with just five points. Brooks hit a 3-pointer halfway through the second half. He ended the game with seven points.
“We came out real slow,” Moore said. “The guys pressed us, got up on us. I think Coach just wasn’t having that today. He went to the bench early. I think we had to get our act together, and we did that.
“I think it’s just a collective effort [off the bench],” Moore added. “Every game we’ve got someone different coming off the bench and helping.”
“He thought we were taking this team too lightly and not playing our hardest,” junior forward Lavoy Allen added. “I think he motivates us to play harder, to play to our potential.”
Not only did the bench pick up the scoring in the absence of Brooks and Fernandez, but so did the third cog in Dunphy’s “three-and-change” scoring system. Allen recorded his eighth double-double this season, and his third straight, with 14 points and 15 rebounds. As a team, Duquesne pulled down 19 rebounds the entire game.
“They play a pretty small lineup, so the idea was to get the inside-out game going,” Allen said. “I think our guards did a pretty good job of getting the ball to us down low.”
Temple’s defense held Duquesne, which returned four starters from last year’s 21-13 team that made it all the way to the A-10 Championship before losing to the Owls, to 44.2 percent shooting for the game but 30 percent from beyond the arc. The Dukes’ leading scorer, junior forward Damian Saunders, shot 3-for-10 and 0-for-3 from the 3-point line. He scored his first points with two minutes remaining in the first half. Sophomore guard Eric Evans, who scored 12 points in the first half, did not score at all in the second half.
“You have to give Temple a lot of credit, especially Allen on the glass tonight. He was tremendous,” Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. “I thought Jefferson and Moore came off the bench and just had very good games. I thought the second-chance points on their end were huge [Temple outscored Duquesne 16-9], and I thought every time we turned the ball over they really made us pay for it in terms of points off turnovers [Temple 12, Duquesne 7]. That’s not a good sign when you’re not getting any easy points.”
Game Notes: Duquesne falls to 1-8 on the road this season, while Temple improves to 10-1 at home…The Dukes have not beaten a ranked team on the road since Jan. 25, 1997. Under the direction of Everhart, they are 1-7 versus the Top 25 and 0-6 on the road. They lost, 68-39, earlier this season to then-No. 6 West Virginia…Duquesne has won just two of its last 17 games against the Owls. The Owls have now won eight in a row versus the Dukes at home.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at email@example.com.