Owls secure win in close game against Blue Hens

Temple university men’s basketball defeated the Delaware Blue Hens 75-74 after overcoming a 10-point deficit in the second half.

Khalif Battle, a sophomore guard, prepares to dunk the ball during the Owls' game against the University of Delaware at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 27. | NICK DAVIS / TEMPLE NEWS

With 56.4 seconds remaining in the game, Blue Hens’ graduate student guard Ryan Allen missed a driving layup, allowing redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn to secure the rebound and advance the ball to sophomore guard Khalif Battle. Battle took two steps and slammed home the dunk, putting the Owls ahead by four. 

Temple University men’s basketball (3-3, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) defeated the University of Delaware (4-3, 0-0 The Colonial Athletic Association) 75-74 Saturday night at the Liacouras Center, scoring 40 points in the paint. 

In the final minute of the game, the Owls and Blue Hens traded baskets, but eventually redshirt-sophomore guard Tai Strickland drained two free throws with 15 seconds left. The Blue Hens failed to score on two consecutive possessions, securing the Owls’ win.

In a game that featured 18 lead changes, the Owls overcame a 10-point deficit, mounting a comeback down the stretch with a strong paint presence and plenty of designed baseline looks. 

The Owls shot 86.7 percent from the free throw line, making 13 of their 15 attempts.

Battle posted 29 points on 10 of 18 shooting, making seven of eight free throws. Battle made three layups falling to the ground in the second half, igniting the crowd and building Temple’s momentum when they needed it most.

“A winning attitude is coming about him more,” said freshman guard Jeremiah Williams. 

Freshman forward Nick Jourdain also made an impact, hustling on the glass during his 21 minutes of action and forcing the Blue Hens to make difficult shots inside. He scored six points on three of four shooting, tipping in two layups in the second half. 

Temple got 18 points off the bench, whereas Delaware’s bench scored four points. Redshirt-sophomore forward Arashma Parks came in as a physical defender for his first minutes of the season, and Strickland scored eight points with key jumpers off the dribble. 

“Our strength is in numbers,” Battle said. “I trust all the guys that come off the bench. They’re just as important as the starters.”

Blue Hens’ graduate student guard Kevin Anderson scored 26 points in the game, shooting eight of 12 from the field and five of nine from three-point territory. Graduate student forward Dylan Painter, who averages 16.8 points per game, scored 21 of his own. 

The Blue Hens shot 43.5 percent from three-point range and 49.1 percent from the field, while the Owls shot 28.6 percent from beyond the arc. 

The Owls trailed by five at halftime, a consistent trend this season. Yet, their second half performance once again trumped their slow start, scoring 44 in the second half after only 31 in the first. 

The Blue Hens went on a 10-0 run over four minutes in the first half in large part to the Owls’ foul trouble and turnovers. 

The Owls had no turnovers in the second half after giving up nine in the first half, thanks to an adjustment by Owls’ head coach Aaron McKie. The Owls began to spread the ball more and keep from dribbling into bad positions while making the Blue Hens work on defense. 

The Owls take on La Salle University (2-2, 0-0 The Atlantic-10 Conference) on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Liacouras Center. 

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