Today may be Valentine’s Day in the City of Brotherly Love, but the men’s basketball team isn’t expected to send any friendly greetings to its cross-town neighbors from Saint Joseph’s.
“On Valentine’s Day,” sophomore guard Mark Tyndale said, “we want to break somebody’s heart.”
It hasn’t been the Hawks’ hearts that have been broken lately in this intra-city rivalry. St. Joe’s has won the last seven meetings between the schools, including a 59-57 victory Jan. 8 at the Palestra that featured three ties and nine lead changes.
No current Temple player has ever been a part of a victory over the Hawks. The Owls will try to change that tonight, when they tipoff against the Hawks in a 7 p.m. contest at the Liacouras Center. This game does not count in the Big 5 standings, but will have some weight in the Atlantic Ten Conference standings.
Owls coach John Chaney said college players aren’t aware of such streaks.
“I think kids carry a short memory,” Chaney said. “That can be good or bad. … But I don’t think that kids carry with them the same kinds of concerns that others carry with them.”
That may hold true for some players, but senior starters Mardy Collins and Antywane Robinson certainly remember. They have been in uniform for each of those seven losses to their city foe.
“I want to beat these guys more than anything,” Collins said.
Robinson wants the same.
“That’s definitely something that’s been on our to-do list for us and our seniors to do,” Robinson said. “We got separated at the Palestra on like a last second shot. We played pretty decent the whole game and [you] hate to lose something like that to a team [like that]. They deserved it, but we just got to look for a little bit of pay-back against this team.
“It’s our last time we’re going to play them and we’ve never beaten them since I’ve been here [or] Mardy or Nehemiah [Ingram] or [since] Dion [Dacons has] been here or whatever. That’s something we’ll take into the game with us.”
But tonight’s game is more than just another city matchup. Neither team can afford to lose more A-10 games, if they are to earn a first-round bye in the A-10 tournament.
The Owls (13-9 overall, 6-5 A-10) currently rank seventh in the conference. Just three games ago, they were in a three-way tie for second place. The Hawks (10-11, 4-6) narrowly missed knocking off No. 8 George Washington Saturday. They currently rank 11th in the A-10.
“That would be a big win for us,” Tyndale said of tonight’s game. “They’re just coming off a tough loss to GW and we just want to try to get a big win.”
TEMPLE 76, DUQUESNE 52
The Owls snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday as four players reached double-figure scoring to beat Duquesne, 76-52, at the Liacouras Center.
Collins, who led the team with 23 points, has averaged 22.2 points in his last six games since scoring a season-low eight points against Massachusetts on Jan 24.
Tyndale, Robinson and junior center Wayne Marshall also reached double-digit scoring.
The Owls never trailed in a game in which they became quite familiar with the paint. Ten of their 16 first-half field goals were in the paint.
The Dukes (3-19, 1-10) kept the game close for the first 15 minutes. The Dukes trailed by 25-18 with just 4:41 remaining in the half. But the Owls capitalized on three Duquesne turnovers to take a 38-26 lead into halftime
The Dukes never cut the lead to less than 13 points the rest of the way as the Owls used the second half to give their bench players some minutes.
The Athletic Department officially announced that the Owls’ game against No. 2 Duke on Feb. 24 at the Wachovia Center is a sellout. It is the Owls’ second sold out contest of the season. Their first came in a Dec. 31 loss to then-unbeaten Villanova at the Palestra. … Temple unveiled a third mascot during Saturday’s game. T-Bird joins Hooter and Baby Owl. … Collins needs 15 points to become Temple’s fifth highest all-time scorer.
John Kopp can be reached at email@example.com.