Men’s Basketball Wins 3rd Straight; Dominate La Salle in Big 5 opener

It had been 654 days since the Owls last played in a Big 5 contest (2/16/20 vs Villanova). Despite that, last night’s effort shows they were up to the task. The Owls cruised 73-57 over the Explorers, holding a double digit lead for the majority of the game.

The blowout win is the third in a row for the Owls, coming off a one point win vs Delaware last Saturday. The Owls are now back to over .500 (4-3) for the first time since their season opening victory over Maryland Eastern Shore.

First Half Storylines

The Owls came out rocking their gray alternate uniforms, a uniform combo they were previously 0-2 in. One of the keys to their first win those alternates was team efficiency on both ends of the floor. The Owls finished the first half shooting 51.9% from the field, while shooting 50% from three in the first half.

Team defense was another key, as the Owls made life for difficult for the Explorers. La Salle was only able to muster up 22 first half points to the Owls’ 39. La Salle shot a putrid 18.2% from the floor and went 0-10 from beyond the 3 point line.

“[We were] Flying around. We were definitely flying around, finishing plays and rebounding. [We] guarded our yard and everyone guarded their own area and picked up their assignments.”

Forward Jake Forrester

Their was a small skirmish near the end of the half as Nick Jourdain committed a personal foul on La Salle’s Anwar Gill. The Explorers took exception, and Khalil Brantley shoved Jourdain, and the two squads met at half court. After a bunch of back and forth jaw-jacking, coaches and officials intervened. Brantley, Gill & Jourdain were all charged with technical fouls for their troubles.

“Whenever that happens, we need to get away. We’re not getting into any of that. There’s no tough guys, we’re basketball players.”

Temple Head Coach Aaron Mckie

2nd Half Storylines

The Owls would continue to control and then put away the game in the second half. Coach Mckie’s squad finished with a total shooting percentage of 47.5% to La Salle’s 25%. The Owls had a lead of at least 29 at one point in the second half. The Owls spent 37:43 of a 40 minute ball game with the lead, a sign of getting on a team early, maintaining pressure, and putting them away late.

To along with tough defense and efficient offense, Temple took the advantage in situational points. The Owls outscored the Explorers in points from turnovers (14-5), points in the paint (38-20), and points off the fast break (13-5).

Although they were slightly out-rebounded and committed more fouls, the Owls had assists on 19 of their 28 made shots. The assists were just another testament to the Owls’ ability to play team basketball and create open looks.

Stars of the Game

When thinking of a player of the game for Temple, not much had to go into the thought process. Reigning AAC Player of the Week Khalif Battle shined again last night. The Sophomore guard picked up 22 points which led the team, while shooting 3-5 from 3pt.

Battle was seen limping off the court and into the locker room late in the game. Head Coach Aaron Mckie told media after the game that they were still evaluating the injury. It was announced Thursday afternoon that Battle had fractured his left foot, and will miss the remainder of the season, a huge blow to the Owls, who will be without their top scorer.

In the second half of Wednesday night’s game, someone needed to step up and fill Battle’s shoes to ensure a comfortable win. That man was Damian Dunn, who finished with 16 points on 7-11 shooting.

“We already had a huge lead, my mentality was to keep being aggressive. Knowing that Khalif went down, without him being on the floor and being our leader, I felt like I had to step up and step into that role.”

Temple Guard Damian Dunn

What’s Next

As mentioned before, it had been 654 days since the last Big 5 contest for Temple. They will only have to wait a few days for their next one as they host the Penn Quakers in the last of their 3 game homestand. The game will take place Saturday afternoon @ 4pm.

“[On the importance of the Big 5] We had a film session last night and told them not only the importance to us or me, but to the city of Philadelpia.

It’s special, it’s unique. It was a unique opportunity for me to grow up watching it. It was a unique opportunity for me to play in it and now to coach in it.”

Temple Head Coach Aaron Mckie

The road ahead will be tough for the Owls without Battle, as they have to trek through the rest of their non-conference schedule. Role players will have to step up, as the Owls will have an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality moving forward.

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