The Liacouras Center played host to thousands of college basketball fans on Friday night. The Owls (now 2-0) opened the season against the Patriot Conference’s American University (now 1-1). Both teams were making their 2014-15 debuts.
After a disappointing 2013-14 season, Temple was prepared to improve, bringing nine players back from last season. Returning players usually means growth over the offseason, and, defensively at least, that’s what the Owls showed on Friday night.
Even after an early lead, what seemed like a high-flying offense was stunned by the American University Eagles. However, the Owls had some tricks up their sleeves as well. Led by the 22 defensive rebounds made by Temple in the game, the Eagles were held to just 11 points at the half. Mix that with 5 visits to the foul line in the first half alone, and the Owls had quite the slow-going contest on their court.
When all was said and done, the free throws helped lift Temple over American by a final score of 40-37, the lowest scoring Temple victory in 66 years.
“Do we have to do better? Absolutely,” said Owls’ Coach Fran Dunphy after the game. Dunphy reaffirmed that even though his team won, they have a lot to work on.
“They kind of took us out of our rhythm, we started thinking more,” echoed Will Cummings, who shot just 1 for 7 from the floor against the Eagles. “We’re ready to put this win behind us and just watch the film of this game and tomorrow get back on the drawing boards and go to practice.”
To go with their 40-37 victory over American, Temple improved to 2-0 on Monday night, beating Louisiana Tech as a 5 point underdog in their own arena. They will be in action this coming Friday night as they take on number four ranked Duke University in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.