A thunderous dunk by junior forward Obi Enechionyia ended the University of Pennsylvania’s hopes of coming back within the last minute at the Liacouras Center on Saturday.
Temple extended its winning streak to five with a 70-62 win against Penn. It was Temple’s 200th win at the Liacouras Center, as the Owls play their 20th season in the building.
The win improves Temple to 3-0 in Big 5 play, with its final Big 5 matchup of the year on Dec. 13 against Villanova, the No. 2 team in the Associated Press Top 25.
Penn trailed by as much as 15 in the second half, but with one minute, 16 seconds left the Quakers cut Temple’s lead to two. After that, Temple scored the next six points on a layup from freshman guard Quinton Rose, two free throws from sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr and the dunk by Enechionyia.
Enechionyia came into play averaging 21 points per game, most recently matching his career-high 26 points on Wednesday against St. Joseph’s. He was held without a field goal in the first half, scoring his only points from the foul line. He ended the game with 12 points, shooting 5-of-17 from the floor and missing all six of his 3-point attempts.
“There is a lot from this game that he can use to learn from,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “There were a couple plays where he could’ve attacked differently and we’ll work on that after looking at the film. But he still had an impact on the game, he blocked five shots and definitely altered a couple others.”
To make up for Enechionyia’s struggles, Temple found scoring from different places. Freshman guard Alani Moore shouldered the load offensively in the first half. Moore made all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half. He made 4-of-5 3-point attempts to score 12 points. He also had a game-high seven assists.
In the second half, sophomore center Ernest Aflakpui was the big contributor for the Owls. For a little more than six minutes in the middle of the second half, Aflakpui was the only Owl who scored. He finished with a double-double racking up 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“We’re not going to be looking to rely on Ernest offensively if Obi is making his shots,” Dunphy said. “He usually doesn’t finish well around the rim, but he really did a good job with that today.”
Aflakpui take prides in his defensive game, but throughout the game Penn gave the ball to freshman center AJ Brodeur in the low post against Aflakpui. Brodeur finished the game with 17 points and seven rebounds. Brodeur leads the team in scoring and has scored in double figures in three straight games.
“I honestly think he could go down as one of the best players in program history,” Quakers’ coach Steve Donahue said. “He’s only six games into his college career and look at what he’s been able to do.”
Next time out Temple will play George Washington University on Wednesday night in the Liacouras Center. George Washington finished last season by winning the National Invitation Tournament.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer.