This was not a typical Temple game. The Owls were short-handed, and La Salle Explorers forced an up-tempo style. In this game the Cherry and White used their offensive skills to defeat their cross-town rivals 90 – 82 in front of 8,154 at the Liacouris Center. Temple Coach Fran Dunphy emphasized the importance of winning this type of game for his team.
“I hope it says we’re resilient, a very special group that can somehow find a way,” Dunphy said. “For our team to find a way to win this game, I am proud of their effort. We are fortunate to have a resilient group, and I hope we can stay that way.”
“I would say 90 is about their high for the season, and giving up 82 is about their high for the season,” said La Salle Coach John Giannini. “We scored better than most do against them. We couldn’t stop them. They are such a good team. They get the right shots. When they needed stops, they dug down.”
Temple did have the presence of Senior Forward Lavoy Allen to gain the win. Allen scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He has registered a double-double in 5 straight games, the 10th this season, and the 38th for his career on his Senior Day. The Owls also got 18 points and 4 assists from Sophomore Guard Khalif Wyatt. The inside play of Allen opened up the outside game for the guards.
“When he gets his offensive game going, it’s a lot easier for everybody else,” said Wyatt. “When they put so much focus on Lavoy in the paint, all we have to do is hit open shots, and Lavoy is a great passer too.”
Junior Guard Ramone Moore scored 16 points, and fellow Junior Guard Juan Fernandez added 15 points and handed out 7 assists.
La Salle got 17 points and 9 rebounds from Sophomore Center Aaric Murray. This was a match-up of two of the best big men in the Big Five.
“Murray is a great offensive player, and the all-time leading shot blocker at La Salle,” said Allen. I like going up against him.”
Junior Guard Earl Pettis put in 12 points for the Explorers. Senior Forward Steve Weingarten added 11. Freshman Guard Tyreek Duren scored 8 points, and dished out 7 assists. Duren had 2 steals which set the program record for steals with 59.
The game was close throughout as there were 22 lead changes and 6 ties. A key for Temple was in going to the boards. La Salle averages 39 rebounds per game while Temple averages 36. In this game Temple won the battle of the boards 34 – 31. The Owls had 15 on the offensive glass. Giannini felt this had a big impact on the result.
“It was a big factor,” said Giannini. “It was a credit to their toughness. We didn’t give them the win, we made them earn it. They are a little physically and mentally tougher than us.”
La Salle is 14 – 17 this season, 6 – 10 in conference, and are 2 – 2 in the Big Five. The Explorers will be the 10 seed in the Atlantic 1o Tournament facing St. Bonaventure in the first round on the road, the winner meets Temple in the Quarterfinals.
With the win Temple improves to 24 – 6 on the season. The Owls have a 22 game win streak at the Liacouris Center, and set a record for number of wins at home for a season with 14. Temple will be the 2 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament as they post a 14 – 2 conference record, and went 3 – 1 in the Big Five. Dunphy looks toward the challenge ahead for his defending three-time champion Owls.
“We’ll remind ourselves how critical this week is,” said Dunphy. “We need to be ready to go.”
Key Run of the Game
A Cole Stefan three-pointer brought La Salle to within 67 – 64 with 10:53 to play. Temple responded by going on a 9 – 2 run giving the Owls a 10 point lead, 76 – 66 at the 8:13 mark. La Salle did get back to within 4 late, but Temple closed out the game by a Fernandez three, and 3 of 4 free throws.
Key Stat of the Game
La Salle averages 39 rebounds per game while Temple averages 36. In this game Temple won the battle of the boards 34 – 31. The Owls had 15 on the offensive glass to 7 for the Explorers.
Key Players in the Game
For Temple – Lavoy Allen who scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He has registered a double-double in 5 straight games, the 10th this season, and the 38th for his career.
For La Salle – Aaric Murray who scored 17 points, pulled down 9 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots.
Point Where the Game Was Decided
La Salle fought back to within 4 at 84 – 80, but a Fernandez three-pointer with 1:48 to play stretched the lead back to 7. Temple closed the game making 3 of 4 free throws.
Thoughts and Musings
One cannot measure the importance of Lavoy Allen for this Temple team. He closed his Liacouris Center career out in grand style. Senior Nights are hard on the Coach. Some are harder than others. Coach Dunphy honored managers, cheerleaders, band members, and 2 senior players, Dutch Gaitley and Lavoy Allen. Dunphy could only praise the gifted Forward from Morrisville, PA.
“A guy like Lavoy Allen has meant so much to this program,” said Dunphy. “It is a tad ridiculous how much he has meant. What he has accomplished on the court, the number of rebounds he’s gotten, over 1,000 points, his teams have been very successful. It is an extraordinary career, and it says a lot about him as a basketball player.
As is his usual demeanor, Allen took it all in stride.
“I try not to worry about that during the game,” said Allen. “After the game it started to hit me. It’s been a good time playing here. Being it was my last game, it was a little sad. I’m happy we came out with a win in my last game here.”
And the Temple fans were happy as well.
Written By: Glenn Papazian