PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/26/2017 – It was a reminder of the Big Five in days past. The second half became a thriller. Temple had the lead, La Salle made a charge. With 39 seconds remaining Explorer guard Pookie Powell, who scored a career-high 29 points, made a three-pointer to put La Salle ahead for good, and they hold on for an 87 – 83 win over the Owls at the Gola Arena. With the win the Explorers are 2 – 0 in the city series, something quite important to the program.
“It feels good and we emphasize it a lot,” said La Salle Coach Dr. John Giannini about winning Big Five games. “This year all five are going to have terrific years and be at the top of their conferences. To beat good teams means a lot. The history is true, if you win the Big Five you go to the NCAA Tournament. If you go 4 – 0 or 3 – 1 in Philly, you’re usually good enough to be in the post-season.”
Most city series games are grind it out wins. This one was exceptionally well played. La Salle turned the ball over only 4 times and made nearly half of their shots. Taking care of the ball allowed the Blue and Gold to have a 15 – 2 edge in points off turnovers. Temple converted over half of their field goal attempts making 34 of 61 (55.7%). The Owls made 8 of 18 from distance while the Explorers were 7 pf 19.
“We won the game very differently,” Giannini said. “Offensively we were terrific. Obviously the scoring of B.J. (Johnson) and Pookie are huge stories. But four turnovers in the game for our team is a big story as well.”
Temple held the lead early. With just under eleven minutes to play the Owls led 66 – 55. Behind eleven straight points La Salle got even at 66 at the 7:29 mark on a layup by Powell. Temple went back ahead, but LSU caught them again. The teams traded the lead until the last minute. The Owls were up 81 – 80 on a jumper by Quinton Rose. The teams traded turnovers with La Salle getting the ball on a Rose miscue setting up the defining possession.
“The shot clock was going down, the ball was in my hands, and my coach told me always to make a play,” said Powell about the critical three. “That’s what I had to do.”
The Explorers (4 – 3) end a three-game losing streak. In addition to Powell senior forward B.J. Johnson added 25 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Center Tony Washington added 12 points and a game-high tying 7 rebounds.
Rose headed the Owls with 21 points and 7 boards. Guard Shizz Alston, Jr. scored 18 points. Josh Brown had 11 points and a game-best 7 assists. Forward Obi Enechionyia scored 16 points, and has 1,014 career points.
Temple (3 – 1) loses their first game of the season. They had a week off since their last contest, and will face South Carolina next Thursday.
“This was a tough loss for us because it was a city game, and knew it was going to be difficult,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy. “I was worried about the distance between games last Sunday and this Sunday. Now, we will start a flow and will be better for it.”
La Salle takes to the road travelling to Towson on Friday.
Written By: Glenn Papazian