Men’s basketball starts slow, wins big in a sloppy conference game.
After a close first half, Temple ran away from Fordham in a 78-60 win at the Liacouras Center Wednesday night.
Redshirt-senior guard Ramone Moore and junior guard Khalif Wyatt led the way with 25 and 24 points, respectively. Wyatt scored Temple’s first 10 points as the Owls picked up their fourth straight Atlantic Ten Conference win and fifth straight overall.
The Owls (16-5, 5-2 A-10) were challenged early by Fordham (9-12, 2-6 A-10), who led Temple early in the first half, spurred by freshman guard Bryan Smith, who scored 13 of the Rams’ first 17 points and finished with 23 points.
“I think those guys came out ready to play. I don’t think we came out too well in the beginning,” Moore said. “It doesn’t matter what the crowd is, we have to come out ready to play.”
“To me it’s so much harder to prepare and make your guys understand how important a game is on a night like tonight,” coach Fran Dunphy added. “I didn’t think we were as ready as we needed to be early. I think we understood when they started making shots and got our act together.”
Temple pulled away late in the first half with a 10-0 run, capped off by a layup by Wyatt with five minutes left.
Moore said Wyatt’s hot start is indicative of what Temple can do with the versatility of its guards, which includes senior Juan Fernandez.
“It’s a great advantage to have. At any given time, [Wyatt], [Fernandez] or myself can get off,” Moore said. “In the beginning of the game, Khalif did a great job of keeping us in the game after they got out to a quick lead. But this team depends on us three guys having the ball and scoring the majority of the time.”
After shooting 2-for-8 from the field in the first half, Moore took the reins in the second half as he shot 7-for-8 from the floor and scored 20 points.
“[Moore] was exceptional tonight,” Dunphy said. “He made shots when we really needed. They made shots in the second half, but I thought Ramone stemmed the tide for us.”
Temple turned the ball over 15 times, four of which came from Wyatt and graduate center Micheal Eric—who tied a career high with five blocks. Dunphy said Eric, playing in his fourth game back after missing 13 contests due to an injured kneecap, made a difference defensively, but seemed to struggle under pressure.
“I hope [Eric’s] presence means something. I didn’t think he was as fluid as he needed to be. He certainly is a presence defensively,” Dunphy said. “There were a couple of rebounds that I thought he could have got, but didn’t. But that’s all apart of getting back into the flow of things.”
Temple heads to Rhode Island (5-18, 2-5 A-10) on Saturday, Feb. 4, to play the struggling Rams in another A-10 contest in which the Owls hope to get a quick start out of the gate.
“What we’re always asking them is to embrace the moment, embrace the opportunity to play college basketball,” Dunphy said. I thought we did that in stretches, but in other stretches I thought we still need work at that.”
Sean Carlin can be reached at email@example.com.