What a difference a win makes.
For the last three months, the Temple men’s basketball team has been playing disappointing basketball. The losses continued to pile up.
But will that all change after the big win against Atlantic-10 and city rival Saint Joseph’s? The Owls (8-12, 5-3) defeated the first-place Hawks (13-7, 7-1) 82-72 Saturday at the Liacouras Center.
Temple plays at Rhode Island Wednesday and at George Washington Saturday.
Saturday’s win was the second straight Atlantic-10 win for the Owls, and gives them a leg up in a close race for second in the A-10 Eastern Division.
Temple was again led by a record-breaking performance by senior guard Lynn Greer. Greer paced the Owls with 34 points, including a perfect 18-for-18 from the line. The perfect game from the line set a Temple record. Greer topped Hal Lear’s 47-year old record of 16 free throws in a game.
Greer also blew by Terence Stansbury (1,811 points) for second all-time in Temple scoring history. Greer has 1,839 points and looks up at Mark Macon (2,609 points). Greer scored a Liacouras Center-record 43 points in Temple’s win last week over the Fordham Rams. This is Greer’s first back-to-back 30 plus scoring effort.
Temple played great defense all day, mostly due to the return of senior swingman Alex Wesby. Wesby missed the last five games due to a wrist injury. He returned for the big contest and played hard nose defense on the perimeter on St. Joe’s scoring guard Marvin O’Connor and point guard Jameer Nelson.
“Getting these kids back healthy is big for us as we move forward to the Atlantic 10 tournament,” Coach John Chaney said after the game. “They can make changes a lot better because they are use to playing together with Alex on the floor.”
Adding to Greer’s scoring was the outside touch of sophomore guard Brian Polk. Polk was 5-for-7 from downtown for 17 points. Sophomore guard David Hawkins chipped in 18 for the Owls and senior center Kevin Lyde had 12 rebounds.
The Owls closed the game out with an amazing show on the free throw line. Temple broke a Liacouras Center-record for free-throws made, connecting on 26 of 27.
Only a miss by Kevin Lyde with 12.5 seconds left prevented a perfect afternoon.
“We had more of a veteran team out there, with the exception of Brian Polk.” Greer said about finally having a close to full team together.
Temple used a “ball zone” defense to hold O’Connor scoreless in the first half. He finished with 18 but didn’t score his first basket until the 15:23 mark of the second half.
Saint Joe’s was led by outside shooter Na’im Crenshaw, who connected on five 3-pointers for a total of 21 points.
“Regardless of their record,” Hawk coach Phil Martelli said of the Owls “they remain the standard-bearer of the Atlantic 10 Conference.
“They have a lot of experience. They have a Hall of Famer over there, there’s not going to be a lot of panic.”
This is a win that can turn the season around. The Owls are getting healthy and starting the road toward tournament time, a time where Chaney’s teams thrive.