Temple and Richmond met at the Liacouras Center Wednesday night as two teams attempting to rebound from road conference losses. Temple was able to knock off Richmond 71-64 and pass the Spiders in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings. Richmond and Temple came in ranked No. 8 and 9, respectively.
The Owls (14-6, 3-3 A-10) were led by senior forward Scootie Randall. Randall had four rebounds to go along with 21 points, 14 of which came in the first half. It was the senior’s highest-scoring game since he recorded 21 against Villanova on Dec. 8.
“I am glad Scootie had a great game,” sophomore forward Anthony Lee said. “It got his confidence back and we need that to get a good streak going. I am glad he is doing what he is doing now.”
Randall, who entered the contest averaging 7.2 points per game over his last five games, had been in somewhat of a slump entering the game.
“I have been playing basketball a long time, so I know that even the great people struggle,” Randall said. “I am thankful that I have great teammates to support me. I think that I just made shots today and it is going to continue to get better.”
After jumping out to a first half lead as large as 13, the Owls allowed the Spiders (13-9, 3-4 A-10) to cut the lead to eight at halftime, 38-30. Temple saw its lead quickly deteriorate in the second half. Richmond closed the gap to within three points after five minutes, and took a 53-50 lead with 11:39 remaining. It was the Spiders’ first lead since the game was 3-2, 39 seconds in.
Senior guard Khalif Wyatt recorded 19 points. It was the first time in six games in which he was not the Owls’ highest scoring player. What was perhaps more surprising, was his contribution on the boards. Wyatt, not known for his rebounding registered seven rebounds, a new career high.
“I haven’t been rebounding that well this season, Scootie actually challenged me to get (under the basket) a little more,” Wyatt said. “I always try to find my teammates as well as score the ball… I know they need me to score but I need to (rebound) as part of my role too.”
Richmond senior guard Darien Brothers tallied a game-high 22 points. Brothers, who came into the contest averaging a team-high 15.9 points per game went 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. The Spiders were playing without their second-leading scorer in junior forward Derrick Williams. Williams, the 6-foot-6-inch 275 pound big man had 18 points and 13 rebounds in last season’s 76-65 win over the Owls.
Lee registered a double-double, the fourth of the season and his career. With 12 points and 13 rebounds, he helped lead the Owls to a 38-24 rebounding advantage and 34-14 advantage in points in the paint.
“I just went out tonight and had a different approach,” Lee said. “Knowing that we had to do better on the boards, I am the leading rebounder so far on the team and I needed to step up.”
Temple closed the game on a 10-3 run after the score was tied at 61 with less than four minutes remaining. The run was started by a Wyatt with a three pointer, as he recorded six of the team’s final 10 points.
A couple Owls either were unable to play due to injury or missed time because of it. Graduate-senior guard T.J. DiLeo did not play after suffering a sprained ankle in the opening minutes of the team’s last game against Butler.
Senior forward Rahlir-Hollis Jefferson, who did not start the previous contest against Butler due to a knee injury, started the game. Hollis-Jefferson was removed however less than two minutes in after landing awkwardly on his knee. While he did return, he received constant attention on the sidelines. This, adding to sophomore guard Will Cummings suffering an apparent left ankle injury could leave the Owls short-handed.
“Every team is banged up right now,” Wyatt said. “I think everyone will be fine, it is just little nicks that you have to play through. We are a little banged up, we hit the ground a little bit.”
The Owls will now travel to Saint Joseph’s to take on the Big 5 rival in Hagan Arena. Temple is currently tied with La Salle atop the standings at 2-0 while Saint Joseph’s sits at 1-1. The game could have large tournament, as well as regional, implications.
“It is a city game and all of that is on the line,” Randall said. “We need to come into the game prepared and look the things that they did to beat us last year that we can take away from the game. You just need to be ready to play, because they will be ready to play.”
Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ibrahimjacobs.