Temple and Richmond rank in the Top 3 in the Atlantic Ten Conference in scoring defense. The Spiders trail the Owls by one game in the A-10.
The men’s basketball team avenged its upset loss at the hands of Charlotte last Wednesday night with a 64-52 victory against Big 5 rival La Salle last Saturday.
In doing so, the Owls (18-4 overall, 6-1 Atlantic Ten Conference) shot 47 percent from the field and held the Explorers to less than 30 percent shooting. Temple shut down the inside-out play of senior guard Rodney Green and freshman center Aaric Murray and held the duo to a combined 24 points on 9-of-29 shooting.
This Saturday in Richmond, the Owls’ defense will try to stop one of the top backcourts in the conference when they battle the Spiders (16-6 overall, 5-2 A-10).
Leading the charge for the Spiders is A-10 Player of the Year candidate Kevin Anderson. The junior guard has eight 20-plus point games and averages 15 points per game. Anderson was named A-10 Rookie of the Year in 2007-2008 and was selected to the conference Second Team last season, when he led the team with 16.6 points per game.
“Kevin Anderson is probably the best guard in the league,” George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said two weeks ago, after Anderson scored 21 points in the Spiders’ 62-57 victory against the Colonials.
Joining Anderson in the backcourt is senior guard David Gonzalvez. Gonzalvez broke out of a mini-slump by shooting 4-for-7 for 10 points in Richmond’s 62-36 win versus Saint Louis last Saturday afternoon. He also grabbed five rebounds. For the season, Gonzalvez is averaging roughly 13 points per game to go along with just fewer than four rebounds and three assists. He is a threat from behind the arc, where he averages more than two 3-pointers a game.
The Spiders can also turn to junior forward Justin Harper. The 6-foot-10-inch, 225-pound big man paced Richmond with 16 points, four rebounds and four steals in the Spiders’ trouncing of the Billikens last Saturday. Harper has emerged as a third option for Richmond, as he averages nearly 11 points and six rebounds a game.
Philadelphia’s own Chris Mooney is in his fifth year at the helm for Richmond. The Archbishop Ryan graduate was a four-year starter at Princeton and led the Tigers to two Ivy League titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Mooney led the Spiders to their 16th 20-win season last year, as well as a second consecutive Top 5 finish in the A-10.
The Spiders are on pace for another 20-win season this year, as they are just four wins shy of the mark, with nine games remaining in the regular season. They got off to an 11-4 start against a non-conference schedule that included wins against Florida, Mississippi State and Missouri.
Richmond is off to a 5-2 start in the A-10 and is tied for third with Rhode Island. The Spiders trail the Owls and Xavier by one game for the top spot in the conference standings.
When the Owls and Spiders tip off Saturday afternoon in Virginia, it will be a battle of two very similar teams. Both teams are tough on the defensive side of the ball, as Temple ranks first in scoring defense in the league, and Richmond sits at third. On the offensive end, the Owls average 65 points a game, while the Spiders, who are 9-1 at home this season, average roughly 67 points per game.
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.