With a little more than five minutes left to play, Temple fans seated in the student section were already looking into the future.
“We want Saint Joe’s, we want Saint Joe’s” echoed throughout the Liacouras Center. Temple meets Saint Joseph’s this Saturday at the Palestra.
Meanwhile, with the Owls on a fastbreak, Temple coach John Chaney beckoned for a timeout, animated as usual. The Owls were trying to enjoy their 20-point lead. Chaney, with a clipboard in hand, was still trying to teach.
For Temple, that’s the way it’s been in the month of February. Consistency and cohesiveness are the two traits most needed at this time of the season, and the Owls’ 83-65 win over Duquesne showed just that.
Temple (12-10 overall, 6-5 A-10) pushed its winning streak to five games and is over .500 in Atlantic Ten Conference play for the first time this season. Temple is now a perfect 5-0 in the month of February.
The Owls played a clean brand of team-ball by dishing out a season-high 17 assists, but Chaney still has some concerns.
“I don’t feel safe at all,” he said. “Sometimes this team will take two steps forward and then three steps back.”
Temple had four double-digit scorers. Senior guard David Hawkins netted a game-high 27 points and a team-high six assists, while sophomore point guard Mardy Collins finished with a career-high 26 points on 11-for-17 shooting from the field. Freshmen Tyreek Byard and Dustin Salisbery chipped in 10 apiece.
The Owls only committed four turnovers, the fewest of the season.
Collins, who converted from a forward in high school to a point guard in his freshman season, has filled in admirably at the point after freshman Mario Taybron didn’t qualify academically this semester.
The switch back to the point hasn’t fazed Collins one bit.
“I really rather be playing point,” Collins said. “Because once nobody’s open, I get to create my own shot.”
Collins went after the Dukes right from the start, especially with the three inches in height he had on Duquesne’s backcourt. Collins was hot from the perimeter and flashy off the dribble, and at intermission had scored 12 points.
During the Owls’ five-game winning streak, Collins and Hawkins have scored 68 percent of the team’s points.
Again, Chaney had some concerns heading into last night’s game.
“I was really afraid of them [Duquesne], to tell you the truth,” he said. “We still find ourselves with two guys carrying the load.”
Temple lost to the streaking Hawks, 83-71, in its first meeting of the season. The last time the Owls beat the Hawks was in a double-overtime affair at the Palestra in 2002, and the last time Temple faced a Big 5 team that was ranked No. 2 was Villanova in 1995.
“We’ve got to stop everybody,” Chaney emphasized. “There’s not enough fingers to stop those guys.”
Chris Silva can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.