Towson forward Jerrelle Benimon scored a career-high 32 points as Temple (1-2, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) fell to the Tigers (3-0, 0-0 Colonial Athletic Association) 75-69.
Temple struggled on the glass, giving up 47 rebounds, including 22 offensive boards. They shot for a higher percentage than Towson – 45.5 as opposed to 36.2 – but the Tigers shot 69 times as opposed to the Owls’ 55.
Redshirt-junior forward Anthony Lee led Temple with 20 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Will Cummings had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The game’s first few stretches were closely contested, with the score gap never exceeding five points. After Towson began the game with a basket, Temple took a lead with 18:32 to go in the half and didn’t surrender it until the 8:44 mark, when Towson took an 18-17 lead on a layup by senior forward Marcus Damas. Lee responded with a bucket on the ensuing possession.
The game went back and forth for the next few minutes including a stretch where Cummings has scored Temple’s previous six points. The last layup, which came on a fast break where Towson’s defenders were slow getting back on defense, put the Owls up 27-26 with 3:12 to go in the half.
With 1:30 to go and Temple up 30-26, sophomore forward Daniel Dingle drove to the basket and was hit hard by Damas, causing Dingle to awkwardly hit the base of the basket. Damas was issued a flagrant 1 foul and sophomore guard Jerome Hairston was given a technical foul for yelling at a referee. Dingle hit both of his shots and left the game and Cummings hit the technical foul shots to put Temple up 34-26.
At halftime, the Owls were leading 36-31. Cummings led the team with 10 points and three assists. Lee added eight points. Benimon led Towson with 11 points. Temple shot 51.7 percent in the first half, greater than Towson’s 31.4 percent.
The second half began with more back-and-forth play. With 14:10 to go and the Owls up 47-41, Benimon and Lee collided, causing Lee to land on his right elbow. He left the game and returned shortly thereafter.
At the 7:49 mark, Temple was leading 56-51 when Towson went on a 6-0 run to take a one-point lead. Sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey hit two free throws to quickly give the Owls the lead back. The teams traded baskets, with sophomore forward Timajh Parker-Rivera getting the and-1 and the block on the other end to put Towson up 62-60. Senior guard Rafael Guthrie hit a jumper to give the Tigers their largest lead of the game with 3:45 to go.
Towson began to pull away from Temple, leading 68-62 before a DeCosey 3. The Tigers could not get a shot off in time, giving the Owls a final possession. Temple could not get a shot off, essentially sealing the game.
Evan Cross can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @EvanCross.