There were upsets in the first two games of the Atlantic 10 Tournament as the lower seeded teams came out with wins. That did not go unnoticed by the#2 seed Temple. The Owls came out determined that they would not be the next victim. They were not as Temple takes a 96 – 76 win over the 10th seeded La Salle Explorers. Junior Guard Ramone Moore made sure that avoiding the upset had the attention of his Temple teammates.
“I mentioned to the team that a lot of top teams fell, and that can’t be us,” Moore warned. “It was a tough victory, and I’m glad we are moving on.”
Temple was able to utilize the skills of Forward Lavoy Allen. The Senior had another double-double scoring 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Allen also had a season-high 6 assists. It was his seventh double rebounding game. The main beneficiaries were the outside players. Moore scored a game-high 23 points, and Sophomore Guard Khalif Wyatt scored 20 making 7 of 11 shots. Junior Guard Juan Fernandez also scored in double figures with 19 points. The Owls committed 6 turnovers in the game.
“I got it going a little bit early in the game,” said Allen. “They started to double down on me and I found my open teammates and they knocked it down.”
On the defensive end Temple benefited from 15 La Salle first half turnovers that gave the Owls a 15 – 2 edge in Points Off Turnovers. For the game La Salle committed 22 turnovers that led to 24 Temple points.
“We did force turnovers,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy on the team’s defensive performance. “That is good for us as we are not good at doing that. We certainly did not guard them well when they shot the ball. But, it was one of those games where we were in the passing lanes. I thought we made some pretty good decisions, but some of that was us and some of that was them, as this typically goes.”
“I didn’t think it was possible but I came out of this game even more impressed with Temple than I was before,” said La Salle Coach John Giannini. “Our defense wasn’t always good, but when it was good they made great plays and tough shots and they played good team ball at the end of the shot clock. I don’t think we played well at all. Fifteen turnovers in the first half and the fact that we just couldn’t stop them, as 96 points shows.”
La Salle had 4 players socred in double figures. Sophomore Center Aaric Murray had a team-high 22 points while Senior Guard Ruben Guillandeaux contributed 17. Freshman Guard Tyreek Duren scored 14, and Senior Forward Jerrell Williams contributed 11.
Temple is the highest seeded team remaining in the Atlantic 10 Tournament and they advance to the semifinal round. The Owls are playing well at the right time, but there is more to do.
“They’ve shown great resiliency, said Dunphy. “They have found a way to get things done and I’m very proud of them for that. Guys have come off the bench and stepped up. I think we are at a good place, but we got a long way to go here.”
Key Run of the Game
In the second half La Salle made a charge to get to within 4 at 46 – 42 with 16:49 remaining in the game. Temple responded with a 15 – 3 run sparked by back to back threes by Moore who scored 8 points in the run. Temple moved in front 61 – 45. La Salle pulled to within 11 points, but each time Temple had a surge to keep La Salle at bay.
Key Stat of the Game
La Salle had 22 turnovers, 15 in the first half. The turnovers led to 24 Temple points in the game, and 15 of those came in the first half. With Temple playing efficiently on offense, La Salle could not overcome the turnovers.
Key Players in the Game
For Temple – Forward Lavoy Allen with another double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, his seventh double rebounding game. Allen handed out 6 assists which is his season-high.
For La Salle – Center Aaric Murray also posted a double-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and Murray blocked 3 shots.
Point Where the Game Was Decided
Temple had large leads in the second half. With 2:24 to play Moore hit a jump shot to put Temple ahead 91 – 72 essentially ending the contest.
Thoughts and Musings
Temple has won 10 consecutive games in the Atlantic 10 Championships and are 10 – 1 at Boardwalk Hall. Lavoy Allen and the senior class never lost a game here. Allen credits the team for this accomplishment.
“I played with some great teammates over the years, and I think we just had a determination to win those games,” said Allen. “So it’s not just me. It’s just the guys I played with.”
Coach Fran Dunphy has the highest winning percentage of all coaches in the Atlantic 10 Championships. The Owls have the inside track this year, but Dunphy will warn the team that the past is not a guarantee of the future. He will get his team to “pay attention to detail.” The Owls will.
Written By: Glenn Papazian