Temple holds on to beat Drexel

Temple Men’s Basketball kept the Dragons at arms reach throughout the game Tuesday, and Sam Hofman’s effort helped the Owls to their first win in the Big 5 Classic Tournament.

Hysier Miller scored 19 points in Temple's two-point victory over Drexel Tuesday. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With nearly four minutes remaining, Temple Men’s Basketball led Drexel 59-51, only needing to stifle the Dragons long enough to hold on for their third win of the season. 

However, the complete opposite happened. The Owls almost collapsed, going scoreless for nearly three minutes as the Dragons chipped away at the deficit, bringing themselves within two points with less than five seconds remaining.

All Temple had to do was grab guard Justin Moore’s missed free throw and dribble out the clock, but Drexel center Amari Williams, who led the Dragons in scoring on the season, grabbed the rebound but missed a shot that would have sent the game into overtime.

The Owls (3-0, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) defeated the Dragons (1-2, 0-0 Coastal Athletic Association) 66-64 Tuesday at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. It was the Owls’ fifth consecutive victory against their crosstown rivals.

“That’s Big 5 basketball,” said Temple head coach Adam Fisher. “We knew it was going to be a one possession game. It’s just what it is. We take big pride to play in the Big 5. To go on the road in the Big 5, it’s hard. Really proud of these guys. I thought we fought. I think we had some mistakes, and we cleaned it up.”

The Owls struggled out of the gate, which put them in an early 10-3 hole. Despite their aggressiveness, guards Jahil White and Hysier Miller couldn’t find a groove in the first half and shot just 3-15 combined in the opening 20 minutes.

With the team’s leaders unable to get going, Temple had to rely on its new additions to keep up with Drexel, and they delivered. Freshman guard Zion Stanford gave Temple a boost off the bench, finishing with six points. Guard Matteo Picerelli chipped in with 11 points, and his multiple three-point shots helped an Owls team that struggled behind the arc.

But it was transfer forward Sam Hofman who made the biggest contribution.

Halfway through the first half, Moore sliced through the defense and drove to the basket. Hofman met him in the paint and drew a charge during a 21-5 Temple run in a 10-minute span, giving the Owls life in the first half.

Hofman’s energy helped fuel the Owls. The senior earned eight points, all coming in the first half, seven rebounds and three steals in 33 minutes. More importantly, he held Williams to eight points on 2-8 shooting, including the missed shot that secured Temple’s win with three seconds left.

Drexel center Amari Williams missed the game-tying layup that would have sent the game into overtime. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

“That’s something I take great pride in,” Hofman said. “That’s always the most important thing to me on the floor. I feel like that’s my biggest asset to the team, just playing hard and being all over.”

Even with the first-half run, Temple couldn’t find a comfortable lead. Drexel went on a 7-0 run to end the half and cut its deficit to seven points. The Dragons gained momentum, which transitioned into the second half, as the Dragons clawed back every chance they could. 

Temple had their own answers though, countering every punch Drexel gave them and keeping their opponent at arms reach. Temple guard Jordan Riley scored all seven of his points in a two-minute span midway through the second half to preserve the lead.

“[Riley] just wants to win,” Fisher said. “He played 15 minutes, and he made some winning plays. That’s what we showed at the Navy game; we showed a lot of winning plays.”

Temple’s defense shined for the third straight game. The Owls held the Dragons to only 37 percent shooting for the game and forced 13 turnovers.

Miller led the team in scoring with 19 points, despite shooting 5-22 from the field. Fourteen of his points came in the second half, giving the Owls a boost across the finish line. His shooting struggles were reflective of the rest of the team, as the Owls shot 31 percent from the field all game.

Temple will try to maintain their momentum when they return home against Columbia (1-2, 0-0 Ivy League) on Nov. 18 at 1 p.m.

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