Despite some sluggish moments, the end result was never in doubt.
The men’s basketball team had no problem with Fordham, beating the Rams, 72-45, Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center. The Owls were led by sophomore forward Lavoy Allen, who posted 19 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Dionte Christmas, who hit for 14 points.
Temple (16-9 overall, 8-3 Atlantic Ten Conference) went on a 21-6 run from the 14:39 mark of the second half to the 5:39 mark, as they extended a 13-point lead to 28. The lead got to that point due to a 13-3 spurt that the Owls used to close the first half.
Still, even they though cruised to a seemingly easy victory, Christmas and the Owls were less-than-pleased with their performance.
“The way we played today wasn’t Temple basketball,” Christmas said. “We underestimated [Fordham], even though we came out with the win. We [should] have taken advantage of this opportunity today to get better, and we didn’t do that. So that’s why I’m a little upset.”
Coach Fran Dunphy felt the same way. But he was quick to point out that the Rams were without their two top players due to injury—senior forward Chris Bethel and junior guard Brenton Butler.
“You want to be the best you can be so you put some space between a team that is wounded,” coach Fran Dunphy added. “And I didn’t think we did that to the best of our capabilities tonight.”
Fordham (3-20, 1-10) put up more a fight than most expected, especially in the first half, where the Owls didn’t hold a lead larger than eight until 1:14 remained.
Dunphy, as usual, wasn’t going to sugarcoat the issue.
“I don’t think there’s a coach alive that will look for an excuse as to why you didn’t come out fired up, ready to go,” he said.
Christmas, though, took his frustration to a higher level.
“We didn’t play as hard as we should have,” he said. “And that result of that [was] we played like trash. We could have played a lot better than that.”
Paramount to the slow first half play was Allen, who had just four points and three rebounds at intermission.
“First half I came out a little slow, and I decided to pick it up in the second half,” Allen said. “I think was being more aggressive, getting in better position down low.”
The starting forward’s inconsistent play has long been a topic during post-game press conferences, and after again be asked about it, Dunphy, perhaps with no more answers, instead responded with some questions of his own.
“How many times have we talked about him and the player he can be, should he choose to do so?” Dunphy said. “Why does it take a half of basketball? I don’t get it, I wish I was that talented.”
Allen also had two blocks in the contests, helping the Owls hold the Rams to 29.8 percent shooting in the contest. They also held a 41-31 advantage on the boards.
Eight of those rebounds belonged to sophomore forward Craig Williams, who hit three 3-pointers to finish with 11 points. Junior guard Ryan Brooks also finished in double-figures, notching 10 points.
But, even with a 27-point win and solid numbers, no one was happy in cherry and white. Christmas, who arrived at the arena at 6:30 p.m. due to a senior seminar class that he could not miss, said he puts it on his shoulders to get the Owls pumped up for these kinds of games against the teams from the bottom of the A-10 standings.
“I take a lot of responsibility for that,” Christmas said. “I’m definitely going to make sure the team is prepared on Friday, and that this won’t happen again.”
The Owls homestand continues Sunday against St. Bonaventure. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
Game Notes: The announced crowd of 3,508 was the smallest since Jan. 5 against Kent State…Former football player and current Indianapolis Colt Raheem Brock was in attendance…Two different Fordham players air-balled free throws…Less than a week after missing a bunch of free-throws down the stretch against Saint Joseph’s, Allen hit on all seven of his attempts from the charity stripe.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at email@example.com.