It’s been a while since Rhode Island has beaten Temple. In fact, the last time it occurred, Lamar Odom was donning a Rams jersey. Odom splashed in a game-winning three pointer to give the Rams a stunning Atlantic Ten title in 1999.
Since that game, Odom went onto to the NBA, while Temple has used URI as a punching bag.
Last night, Temple continued its domination with a convincing 69-53 win over URI at the Ryan Center, and in the process evened its record with a key conference victory. The Owls have now won 10 straight over URI.
The win was key in terms of the A-10 standings, as Temple (10-10, 5-5 A-10) took a two-game lead for second place in the A-10 East Division.
For the first time all season, guard David Hawkins didn’t need to initiate all of the offense. Sophomore guard Mardy Collins netted 21 points and center Keith Butler added 11, eight rebounds and six blocks in his finest performance of the season.
As always, Hawkins’ play was critical, as he dropped in 22 points and set a school-record with his 15th consecutive 20-point game. Temple legend Bill Mlkvy set the previous mark back in 1951.
The Rams jumped out to an early six-point lead, but the silky smooth play of Collins helped the Owls surge ahead and never look back. Taking advantage of URI miscues, Temple hit 7-of-10 shots during one stretch and went into the half with a 35-25 lead.
Temple, the worst shooting team in the A-10, connected on 48 percent of their shots, as URI (14-10, 3-7) managed to hit just 32 percent from the field.
With Temple continuously relying on the inexorable play of Hawkins, the senior’s stellar season has earned him some impressive numbers.
During the win over St. Bonaventure, Hawkins moved into third place on the school’s all-time scoring list ahead of Terence Stansbury (1980-84). After last night, Hawkins has 1850 career points heading into the weekend. Coincidentally, the last player under Chaney to average as many points in a season was Stansbury, who poured in 24.6 a game for the 1982-83 season.
Hawkins is currently third in the nation in scoring and first in the A-10 with 24.4 points per game.
To add, Hawkins set a school-record of 15 consecutive games with at least 20 points. In all but two games this season he has been the Owls’ leading scorer. During the record streak, Hawkins is averaging 25.5 points.
All season Hawkins has been hoping his teammates can help with the scoring load, but the Owls are shooting an A-10 worst 37 percent from the field.
“Everybody knows I do most of the scoring, so there’s always somebody on me,” Hawkins said. “I rarely get open shots.”
The Owls have been on the road for the past two weeks and from the sound of Hawkins, maybe that doesn’t appear to be a bad thing.
Following a Temple loss against Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 31, Hawkins questioned Owls fans and their “fair-weather” attitude. He did admit the team feeds off the crowd’s energy.
“Sometimes I don’t know about our fans, they’re fair weather fans,” he said. “When you’re winning they’re with you and when you’re losing then Chaney needs [to go].”
The Owls play their final seven games of the regular season in the city. Five of those games are at the Liacouras Center, including marquee matchups against Georgetown and Xavier.
The other two contests are on the road against city rivals LaSalle and St. Joseph’s.
Jason S. Haslam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.