When Mike Robbins checked out of the game with 13 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first half, the student section chanted his name.
The senior guard got his first career start on Senior Day and came out strong. On the Owls’ first possession, he passed the ball to senior forward Mark Williams for a left-wing 3-pointer. Robbins made a reverse layup after a baseline drive at the 18:28 mark. The former walk-on hit a left corner 3-pointer with 15:35 left to give the Owls a 13-point lead, their largest of the game.
Robbins and Williams combined for 13 points in the opening 4:25 of the Owls’ 86-76 double-overtime win on Saturday at the Liacouras Center. Robbins finished with seven points, one short of his career-high eight, which he set in December against DePaul University.
“When we were walking out underneath the basket to shake the coaches’ hands [before the game], they had my jersey framed along with Dan’s and Mark’s,” Robbins said. “Just seeing the No. 22 in the frame really let it sink in on me.”
Williams received a standing ovation when he fouled out of the game with 2:27 left. He finished with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field.
“It’s like you’re about to move out of your childhood house,” Williams said. “You just look around and just get that last feeling.”
Williams started his first game since the Owls’ matchup with West Virginia University on Nov. 25. Williams hit back-to-back baskets in the paint during the first overtime to give Temple (15-15, 6-11 American Athletic Conference) a 69-66 lead. He then batted a loose ball ahead to give Temple possession with 5.4 seconds left. Williams hit freshman guard Quinton Rose on a backdoor cut early in the second overtime to start a 7-0 Temple run.
Williams had eight points on 3-of-6 shooting in the first half. With 16:23 left in the half, he passed up a 3-point jump shot and dribbled to his right to feed junior forward Obi Enechionyia in the post. Enechionyia hit the post fadeaway and Williams got one of his three assists on Saturday. He added six rebounds and two blocks.
“I think he can look back on a game like today and say to himself, ‘I had a phenomenal impact in a game that we needed to win,’” coach Fran Dunphy said.
While Williams usually comes off the bench, redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle has been in the starting rotation all season. He scored six points in the first half and grabbed five rebounds. He ended the day as one of the Owls’ four double-figure scorers with 13 points to go with eight rebounds.
Senior guard Josh Brown was noticeably missing, sitting on the bench in a black suit instead of being on the court. He injured his Achilles tendon in May 2016 and missed the first six games of the season while he recovered. He averaged 7.2 points per game and shot 52 percent from the field in six games but hasn’t played since the Owls’ loss to Villanova on Dec. 13.
“He brings a lot to our team,” Williams said. “He’s been a very proactive teammate. So even though he’s not physically out there on the court, he’s constantly in guys’ ears, myself included, [and] especially the young guys.”
The Owls will not graduate a 1,000-point scorer for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Former guards Quenton DeCosey and Will Cummings both accomplished the milestone. This senior group has combined for two NCAA tournament appearances, one National Invitation Tournament semifinal and three 20-win seasons.
Temple’s postseason hopes this year aren’t as bright, but the Owls could still reach the NCAA tournament if they win The American’s end-of-season tournament.
“This game, it meant a lot for us, for myself, Mike, for Mark, just us as a unit, as a whole,” Dingle said. “Finally, it’s been awhile since we got a home-court victory. It feels good. And now we’re playing [South Florida on Sunday] next and we got the conference tournament. This hopefully gives us some momentum.”
Evan Easterling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling.