PHILADELPHIA – This past week, the Temple Owls had a rivalry packed schedule to play. First, they were pitted against the University of Pennsylvania Quakers during a midweek game on Wednesday, December 9th at the Palestra. Four days later, on Sunday, December 14th, they had their second go at another Big 5 rival in a contest against the St. Joseph’s University Hawks at the Liacouras Center. Both games came down to the final minute and truly represented the intense spirit of Philadelphia Big 5 basketball.
Temple vs. Penn
In their first Big 5 matchup of the season, Temple went up against the Penn Quakers. Though it was the 14th meeting between Temple head coach, Fran Dunphy, and first year Penn head coach, Steve Donahue, it marked the first contest in which Dunphy and Donahue were coaching against each other with each coach at the helm of a Big 5 program. The two have a history together — while Dunphy was the head coach at Penn, Donahue was on his staff for an entire decade during a time in which they lead the Quakers to six Ivy League championships. In a battle between mentor and apprentice however, Dunphy and the Owls proved to be the better team against Donahue’s Quakers that night.
Temple ended the game with four scorers in double-figures and each of the nine players that played added at least three points. Jaylen Bond and Josh Brown contributed 12 and 10 points of their own respectively. Bond did all of his damage from the post, hitting most of his jump hooks and scoring all of his 12 points on six shots from inside the arc. Bond was also a main factor in the rebounding margin against Penn, grabbing 10 of Temple’s 34 rebounds, with the Owls outrebounding the Quakers by 11 (34-23) at the game’s conclusion. Josh Brown only attempted four shots and made two of them, but added five clutch points at the free throw line in the closing seconds of the contest. Just like Bond, Brown did more than score for the Owls. The junior guard filled the stat sheet, corralling a total of six boards and dishing out nine assists while turning over the ball just one time in a game high 38 minutes played.
Temple’s coach Dunphy praised the performance of his developing guard after the victory over his old school. “If his numbers could be like this every night — 10 points and obviously those four foul shots down the stretch were big, six rebounds, nine assists, one turnover — that’s a pretty good performance,” Dunphy said about Brown. “I think he defended better tonight too.”
Senior offensive threat, Quenton DeCosey, also showed appreciation for Brown’s performance. “He did a great job getting everybody involved on our team,” DeCosey said. “And with just one turnover…we’re going to need him to do that throughout the rest of the season.” DeCosey tallied a game high 22-points on an accurate 67-percent shooting from three and 58-percent from the field overall. The senior wingman also grabbed six rebounds in the win.
The Owls’ Obi Enechionyia was another main contributor in the victory. Though the sophomore picked up two early fouls that limited him to just six minutes of action in the first half, Enechionyia exploded in the second half. Obi scored all of his 11 points in the final half of play, making four of his seven shots that included two three balls in the process.
Though Temple’s numbers look dominant on paper, Penn didn’t go down without a fight. The Quakers trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, but only lost by four. The main reason for that can be credited to the performance of two young Quakers, Antonio Woods and Jackson Donahue. 12 of the 14 final Quaker points were scored by Woods and Donahue. The freshman, Donahue, made a clutch three with 50 seconds left in the game to pull Penn within five while Woods, the sophomore star, scored nine points in the last 60 seconds.
In the end however, the spirited comeback by the Quaker youth was not enough to manage the double-digit deficit. Temple was ultimately able to survive the storm with final score being, 77-73 in favor of the Owls.
Temple vs. St. Joe’s
Not even a week after their heated matchup against Penn, Temple had another grueling Big 5 battle. On Sunday, the Owls faced off against the Hawks of St. Joseph’s, but this time, it was on Temple’s home court. Neither team ever led by double digits, and the contest needed an extra five minutes to decide the victor, but in the end, the Owls had their hearts broken by the Hawks.
Temple trailed by as many as nine points in the second half, but a late comeback that was capped off on a game tying dunk by Quenton DeCosey sent the game into overtime.
In the extra period of play, St. Joe’s freshman, Lamarr “Fresh” Kimble, was able to steal the show. The first year collegiate player drained a go ahead three with 2:13 left in overtime that eventually proved to be the game winning shot. The three-pointer put St. Joe’s in the lead, 66-64, and Temple was never able to overcome the two-point deficit. It was the first time St. Joe’s led in overtime and the first time the Hawks led since the 50 second mark in the second half of regulation.
DeAndre’ Bembry, a junior for the Hawks, recorded his seventh career double-double against the Owls with a team high 17 points and 13 rebounds. Bembry spoke on Kimble’s clutch moment against the Owls, which wasn’t his first time seeing the freshman step-up in crunch time.
“He’s played through big games like this so he’s never really scared of the moment,” Bembry said. “I remember watching him for the first time playing in states…he hit a clutch three…with five seconds left. That’s just something that reminds me of why he hit the shot today. He’s very confident in himself.”
In a game that was settled by a single point, a few made free throws could have been the difference in the outcome. Temple shot 70-percent from the charity stripe, and missed two of their four free throw attempts in overtime that could have ultimately led to an Owl victory.
Obi Enechionyia missed a foul shot that could have tied the game at 66 with 1:04 left to play in overtime, but despite the woes from the foul line, he played like a man on a mission throughout the contest. The sophomore drained a game high 25-points, that included four three pointers and an efficient 57-percent shooting from the field. Not known as a rebounder, Enechionyia also grabbed 13 rebounds during his impressive outing, which marked the sophomore’s first double-double as an Owl in his short two year career. Even though he had the hot hand throughout the game, Enchionyia’s last second three pointer to win the game in overtime failed to fall through the hoop.
The missed free throw in overtime and last second attempt at the horn by Enechionyia were the two prime opportunities that ultimately led to the Owls’ demise. The final score at the end of overtime was 66-65, St. Joe’s.
The loss at Liacouras marked the first home loss for the Owls this season. They won their previous two contests on North Broad against Delaware and Farleigh Dickinson earlier in the season.
Temple will stay at home during the exam period and face off against the Delaware State Hornets on Saturday, December 19th at the Liacouras Center. Delaware State is currently win-less through their first nine games of the season, so the Owls will look to take advantage of the manageable opposition.