Temple found itself in a familiar situation last night against Fordham. Reminiscent of the Owls’ recent loss to Saint Joseph’s, the Rams opened the game with three straight three-pointers.
After Fordham guard Michael Haynes finished the first half with four treys, one couldn’t help but imagine the Owls would fall victim to another team with a bunch of hot hands, let alone a Rams’ squad with the worst overall and conference record.
But David Hawkins had other plans.
The senior guard poured in 28 points, including 22 in the second half, to boost Temple to a 57-47 win. Hawkins set a school record with his 14th consecutive 20-point game. He scored Temple’s first 11 points of the second half.
The Owls improved to 8-10 overall, 3-5 Atlantic Ten Conference, while the Rams dropped to 4-14 overall, 1-6 A-10.
Trailing the entire game, Hawkins took matters into his own hands in the second half.
Hawkins tied the game, 40-40, with a three-pointer at the 9-minute, 5-second mark in the midst of a 12-0 run that would put the Owls ahead 44-40 for good. Temple twice trailed by eight points.
Haynes, who finished with 19 points, was held to three in the second half.
Temple forward Michael Blackshear finished with eight points and 13 rebounds, both career-highs.
There was no contest
Let’s not fool ourselves.
If you forgot to check the scoreboard while exiting the Liacouras Center last Saturday, Temple’s 83-71 loss to Saint Joseph’s felt more like double the margin of defeat. And the game appeared to linger on longer than usual, thanks to the Hawks’ offensive clinic and the St. Joe’s fans noisily hovering above the court from the second tier.
The Owls got things together to make the score look respectable as time dwindled, but it came about 20 minutes too late. The hype heading into the contest began midway last week and carried on until the Hawks’ heady backcourt found a rhythm – which took less than two minutes into the game – and netted three-pointer after three-pointer, setting conference and building records with 20 treys. There was little Temple could do when St. Joe’s had four players connecting on the long ball. The Hawks also divvied 20 assists.
The next time the Owls face the Hawks will be Feb. 21 at the Palestra, a place where Temple hasn’t had much luck in recent history, except for this season’s win against Penn.
It was the best passing team the Owls faced all season, almost never leaving Temple’s zone at a standstill, and not allowing for weak side defense to recover in time.
But senior David Hawkins, who scored a game-high 36 points, thinks St. Joe’s can be beaten by season’s end.
“I still think we can beat them,” he said. “When that happens, we have to capitalize on what we did to get back into the game and don’t let them get off to that start they got off to.”
Time keeps on ticking
With nine games remaining until the A-10 Championships in Dayton, Ohio, Temple is still searching for consistency. The Owls have traded wins with losses over the past eight contests and haven’t won consecutive games since mid-December.
The remaining schedule doesn’t look too appeasing. Four of Temple’s final nine opponents have winning records. Temple has been stamped with a Ratings Per Index (RPI) of 88 and is stuck in a three-way tie for third place in the East Division with Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure, two teams the Owls will have to face in the coming weeks.
Temple is only one game behind second-place UMass, a position they would like to be in considering the top two teams of each division receive first-round byes in the A-10 Championships.
Chris Silva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.