PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/7/2015 – In the first it was the Ryan Boatright show. The Connecticut senior scored 21 points and seemed to control the game. The second half was different. The Temple team defense and in particular senior guard Jesse Morgan held Boatright scoreless for the first eleven minutes plus of the second half, 4 overall as the Owls posted a 75 – 63 victory over the Connecticut Huskies at the Liacouris Center. Containing Boatright, not letting him get to the basket, put Temple in the right direction to win.
“The plan was to keep the ball out of his hands, and make somebody else run the offense was our main goal,” Morgan said about the defensive adjustment on Boatright.
With the win Temple clinched at least a tie for third place in the American Athletic Conference. It did not come easy. Temple senior guard Will Cummings was able to match Boatright scoring 23 points while fellow senior Jesse Morgan added 17 points. Morgan scored the first 8 points for the Owls.
“I wanted to guard Boatright and take the pressure off him (Cummings),'” Morgan said.
He apparently did as Cummings also handed out a game-high 5 assists and had 3 steals.
The Cherry and White took the lead at the 14:47 mark at 43 – 41 on a layup by junior guard Quenton DeCosey, who scored 15 in the game. The Owls held the lead, but the Huskies were still within striking distance. The game turned solidly in Temple’s direction with just over four minutes to play when Morgan stole the ball and made a three-pointer with 3:59 on the clock to widen the lead to 63 – 55. The basket started a 12 – 1 Temple run widening the lead to 16 points with just over a minute and a half of playing time left.
The Owls had an edge in rebounding, 31 – 27, but it was on the offensive glass, 16 – 10 that aided Temple’s offense. Temple pulled down offensive rebounds at the start of the second half that which began to erase the five point Connecticut halftime lead.
“They got two offensive rebounds in the second half and that really set the tone,” said Connecticut Coach Kevin Ollie. “We never could get our tempo back. We knew they were number one in the conference (in offensive rebounding) and it shows the toughness that they have.”
Junior forward Jaylen Bond had 4 of his 5 rebounds on offense and freshman forward Obi Enechionyia pulled down 5 rebounds, 3 offensive.
Turnovers also favored Temple committing only 4 in the game compared to 14 for UConn and resulted in a 26 – 6 advantage in points off turnovers.
“It was really important,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy not committing turnovers. “It’s something we talk about, and we’ve done a good job of that. I met with Coach Chaney a couple of weeks ago and the first thing he said was ‘don’t turn that ball over.’ We hope to continue to take care of the basketball. It was a big part of the game today.”
Rodney Purvis was the only other Connecticut player to score in double figures with 18 points. Boatright and Purvis made 14 of the Huskies 20 field goals, and all six of the team three-point baskets.
“Other guys have to step up and play,” Ollie said. “You can’t just rely on Ryan.”
Where the Owls (22 – 9, 13 – 5) will be seeded in the conference tournament is still to be decided. It could be the number three or four seed depending upon the result of the Cincinnati – Memphis game on Sunday March 8th. Still, Temple is looking to play their best basketball in the post-season.
“We’re not going to change too much,” said Cummings. “Shoot the ball when you’re open, go out and play, and have fun.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian
NOTES: It was Senior Day at Temple. Four players were honored before the game. It was the last game at the Liacouris Center for Cummings, Morgan, Nick Pendergast, and Jimmy McDonnell. All four started the game.