The men’s basketball team moves to second place in the Atlantic Ten Conference.
The No. 24 men’s basketball team has continued to tread water in the four-team race for a guaranteed trip to Atlantic City for the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament in March, with wins over Fordham and Dayton last week.
It’s safe to call the team’s Wednesday night matchup against Fordham a trap game. The currently 6-16 Rams didn’t seem to pose much of a threat upon entering the Liacouras Center and, for the first half of the game, they were not very threatening as the Owls were able to jump out to a 47-29 halftime lead.
After that, complacency seemed to take over, and the Rams took advantage as the Owls seemed asleep at the wheel.
The Rams came out and shot 51.7 percent from the floor and at one point, the Owls held a slim 53-50 lead with 13:57 remaining in the game before the Owls woke up.
“[Coach Fran Dunphy] is real upset with us, and I think he should be,” redshirt-junior guard Ramone Moore said. “We did a bad job coming out in the second half.”
“We’re not good enough to have those stretches of games where we aren’t focused on each possession,” Dunphy said.
The Owls were able to stay ahead through their prowess on the glass as they out rebounded the Rams, 49-36. Senior forward Lavoy Allen led the team as he grabbed 14 rebounds to go with his seven points on the night, but Allen would exit the game in the second half with a sprained ankle.
Four Owls would score in double digits to give the Owls a 77-66 win. Moore led the way with 22 points, redshirt-junior center Michael Eric and junior forward Scootie Randall each had 12 points and junior guard Juan Fernandez had 10 points. For Fordham, sophomore forward Chris Gaston had 27 points and nine rebounds.
After surviving a comeback attempt from Fordham, the Owls hit the road for a Saturday afternoon matchup against the Dayton Flyers. The Owls were without Allen because of his injury, but the Owls managed to win, 75-63.
Sophomore forward Rahlir Jefferson started in place of Allen and had 30 minutes of action with five points, five rebounds and three assists in his first career start.
Moore once again led the Owls in scoring with 26 points and nine rebounds. Randall put up 17 points and sophomore guard Khalif Wyatt had 12 points off the bench. Fernandez also chipped in nine points with nine assists.
Up next, the Owls will have a Thursday night matchup against Richmond, a team that is tied with Temple for second place in the standings with an identical 9-2 conference record. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
On Sunday the St. Joseph’s Hawks will come to the Liacouras Center for a Big 5 matchup. The last time the Owls and Hawks faced each other on Jan. 29, the Owls came away with a 72-54 win at the Palestra. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at email@example.com.