The men’s basketball team has struggled to hold large leads throughout the season.
The Owls didn’t have that problem Sunday.
Fueled by Mark Tyndale’s second straight double-double, the Owls built a 23-point lead by halftime and coasted to an 80-64 victory at the Liacouras Center. Tyndale connected for 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, both team-highs.
Dustin Salisbery and Dionte Christmas added 19 and 17 points, respectively, as the Owls improved to 3-5 in the Atlantic Ten Conference. With the Owls near the bottom of the A-10, Salisbery called every game a must-win situation.
“Just knowing the position we’re in right now, we have to win every game from here on out,” Salisbery said. “So, we came out with intensity.”
After allowing their opponent to score at least 70 points in 10 straight games, the Owls (9-12 overall) have held their last two opponents under that mark. They held Darnell Harris, the Explorers’ top scoring threat, to just four points.
“I just think one team clearly outplayed the other,” Explorers coach John Giannini said. “I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that.”
Both teams failed to come up with many stops early, as the game featured seven lead changes and three ties in the first 10 minutes. The Owls clung to a 23-22 lead.
But Temple settled down on defense, limiting the Explorers (9-14 overall, 2-7 A-10) to just two points over then next seven minutes. On offense, the Owls put 20 points on the board during that stretch to take a 43-24 lead with four minutes left in the half.
By halftime, the Owls had stretched their lead to 23, at 54-31. Freshman Ryan Brooks came up big, hitting eight of his career-best 11 points in the first half.
“He’s the same guy every single day,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. “He asks nothing of anyone. He just goes out and works every day. So, it’s really just a case of me giving him an opportunity.
“He was a big boost today.”
ALUMS IN ATTENDANCE
Both former coach John Chaney and Knicks rookie Mardy Collins took in the contest.
Upon seeing Chaney, who watched the game from press row, Tyndale gave a subtle wink.
Chaney, however, was not so subtle.
“I just heard coach Chaney on the sidelines saying ‘Keep moving after the ball, keep moving after the ball,'” Tyndale said. “So, I was getting coached from the left and the right side of me.”
The Owls return to action Wednesday against Saint Bonaventure at the Liacouras Center.
John Kopp can be reached at email@example.com.