The Owls won their season opener in overtime.
Senior guard Juan Fernandez drained a three with 17 seconds remaining in overtime to secure a five-point lead for the Owls, as they went on to win their season opener, 73-67, against Penn on Monday at The Palestra.
“I’m not surprised [Fernandez] made that three,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “That’s par for the course for him.”
The score was tied at 57 after regulation ended and the two Big-5 rivals entered a five-minute overtime period where the Owls would claim their first win of the year.
“I think [Penn] has played better than us for the last three years in a row now,” Dunphy said of the team’s regular season matchups.
“We’ve just been lucky enough to win these games,” Dunphy added. “This was obviously the closest one we had.”
In overtime, Penn’s senior guard Zack Rosen made one of his seven three-pointers of the game to put the Quakers up one and then shortly after the Quakers extended the lead to three with two minutes and 19 seconds remaining, as senior forward Rob Belcore made a layup to make the score 64-61.
Fernandez, who led the team with 19 points in the game, made a bucket in the paint with two minutes remaining to bring the Owls within a point and then a healthy three by redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore gave Temple a two point lead with 1:18 remaining.
After a defensive stop by the Owls on the other end, Fernandez sank a three with 17 seconds left on the game clock to give Temple a five-point lead. The three-point field goal by Fernandez, who went 3-6 behind the arc on the night, would be enough to carry the Owls past the Quakers.
The Cherry and White began the game down two starters in senior guard Scootie Randall, who is recovering from off-season surgery and junior guard Khalif Wyatt, who was suspended for the game. The short bench for the Owls was challenged at the start of the game as Fernandez got into early foul trouble.
Fernandez committed his second foul in the first half about five minutes into the game with the Owls down 6-5. Dunphy replaced Fernandez with junior guard T.J. DiLeo to make sure Fernandez didn’t pick up any additional fouls so early in the game.
“I’m trying to find a way, trying to grow up as a player,” Fernandez said. “It’s the part of my game that I have to work on.” After that substitution, Penn went on an 8-0 run in the ensuing three and a half minutes. Moore stopped the bleeding for the Owls, as he hit a jumper to bring the deficit to 14-7.
When Fernandez came back into the game, the Owls went on a 12-4 run and Fernandez’s three-point field goal with about six minutes remaining in the half gave Temple its first lead at 19-18 since the score was at 4-2 in favor of the Owls.
Fernandez started at point guard, but committed his third foul two minutes into the second half. DiLeo returned to the floor and the score remained close at 35-34 until Fernandez checked back in to assist DiLeo in the backcourt.
Fernandez immediately hit a three off the bench and gave the Owls a 38-34 lead.
With the score at 46-45 and Fernandez back at point guard, the Owls were able to extend their lead to three after Fernandez made a basket and junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson stole the ball on the other end leading to a breakaway dunk. The Owls led 50-45.
In the second half Rosen, who averaged 14.3 points and 5.4 assists per game last season, asserted himself as an offensive weapon for the Quakers and scored 14 of his game-high 27 points.
However, with less than four minutes remaining in the game, it was Rosen who missed a free throw attempt during a one-and-one situation for the Quakers that would have tied the game at 52. Instead Moore went back the other way to make a basket and give the Owls a three point lead with the score at 54-51.
The Owls claimed a four-point lead with 2:37 remaining in regulation after a basket by Hollis-Jefferson. But the Quakers responded again with a basket, in the game that featured nine lead changes, to bring the score to 56-54 with about two minutes remaining.
A walk by sophomore guard Aaron Brown on the offensive end lead to a three by Rosen to give the Quakers a one-point lead at 57-56 with 1:18 remaining in the game. Moore drove into the lane on the Owls’ next possession to head to the free throw line where he would make one of two attempts and tie the game at 57 and sent the game into overtime.
“I’m just glad we got the win honestly,” DiLeo said.
The Owls will travel to Puerto Rico to take on Western Michigan next for a tournament on Thursday.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.