PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/13/2017 – The Temple Owls played the #1 Villanova Wildcats. It was the third straight year that the Owls faced the Wildcats as the top-ranked team in the nation. And for the third straight year Villanova comes away with a victory, 87 – 67 at the Liacouris Center. The Wildcats earn another Big Five championship and extend their city series winning streak to 22 straight games.
The number one team was lead by uniform number one, Jalen Brunson who scored a career-high 31 points on 11 of 16 shooting, 6 of 10 from beyond the arc. Brunson scored 22 of his points in the first half making 8 shots, many in spectacular fashion. The junior guard was 5 of 7 from deep, and handed out 4 assists in the opening half.
“I try to keep the same mindset every game,” Brunson said about this performance. “I try to have the same mentality, same approach, play my game, play Villanova basketball, be aggressive. It was one of those nights I got it going. I kept shooting the ball, and it kept going in.”
If Temple took some positivism from La Salle battling Villanova to a close game, the Wildcats showed no after effects. The Cats got off to a hot start and the Owls were cold. Not the way Temple hoped to end the Nova streak. It took the Owls just over 5 minutes to get their first basket, a layup by Shizz Alston, Jr. making the score 10 – 4 for the visitors.
Villanova, and more specifically Brunson, answered with 10 straight points to go ahead 20 – 15. Following a basket and a three by Nova guard Donte DiVincenzio, Brunson sunk another one from distance and the Cats were up 28 – 8 in just under 10 minutes.
Temple did fight back as Quinton Rose sunk back-to-back-to-back three pointers, then guard Josh Brown found the range from distance. Two more baskets from Rose and Brown got the gap to 28 – 21. Villanova answered scoring the next nine points.
“They get on some killer runs, and they did that in the first half.” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy. “We had gotten it back to seven in the first half, then they go on a run. You can’t make a mistake, and when you do, they take great advantage of it. That was devastating.”
Nova went into halftime leading 46 – 29, and kept the separation throughout the second half.
“I tried to make shots, make the right play at the right time,” said Brunson. “They were taking away certain plays, certain passes, and I just tried to be aggressive.”
In addition to Brunson, whose father Rick played at Temple, Nova got a career-high 27 points from forward Omari Spellman who made 4 three-pointers and took down a game-best 8 rebounds. For the game the main liners shot an impressive 60% (33 – 55) and converted nearly half of their three’s.
“They did a good job of taking away our perimeter guys, so it forced somebody to go create shots,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “La Salle had the same game plan, but tonight we made the shots and that was the difference.”
Guard Quinton Rose led the Cherry and White with a career-mark 27 points. Alston added 12 points and extended his kept his consecutive made free throw streak to 54.
Villanova improves to 11 – 0 and will take time off for exams before taking on Hofstra on December 22 at the Nassau County Coliseum. Wright was the coach at Hofstra prior to coming to Villanova.
Temple (6 – 3, 1 – 2 Big Five) will play their fourth consecutive home meeting another city team when Drexel comes to visit on Saturday.
Written By: Glenn Papazian