After earning an emotional victory against the La Salle Explorers on Friday night, the Owls looked like a different team in their NIT Preseason Tip-Off game against the Wildcats on Monday. Junior forward Obi Enechionyia and senior guard Daniel Dingle did their best to carry the Owls to victory with their 33 points combined, but the Owls’ inexperienced backcourt and lack of points in the paint made them fall short and drop their record to 1-1.
The New Hampshire Wildcats of the American East Conference improved their record to 2-0 with the victory and were led by forwards Tanner Leissner and David Watkins. Leissner, a junior from Converse, Texas, racked up 12 points and 8 rebounds and had the difficult assignment of guarding Temple’s Obi Enechionyia, who is three inches taller than Leissner. The play by New Hampshire’s David Watkins was the key to the Wildcat victory. Watkins averaged only 1.1 points per game in his freshman season, and only played 19 minutes in Monday night’s contests, but the 6’8 sophomore was on fire from behind the arc as he tallied 15 points and 5-7 shooting from three.
While the New Hampshire Wildcats shot well from behind the arc (10-30 on the night) and the free throw line (7 for 8, 87.5%), the Owls could not hit water if they fell out of a boat. Besides Enechionyia’s 20 points on 8-17 shooting and Daniel Dingles 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting, the rest of the Owls shot an incredibly low 19.4% from the floor on 7 of 36 shooting.
“We didn’t execute like we usually do, like I know we can.” said Enechionyia after the game.
Sophomore point guard Shizz Alston Jr. had a night to forget. The Philadelphia, PA native went 3-16 from the floor and 1-10 from behind the arc, including a potential go-ahead pull-up jumper from the foul line where he had a great look at the basket.
Shizz Alton Jr. was not the only young guard to have a subpar night. Freshmen guards Alani Moore and Quinton Rose, the reigning AAC Rookie of the Week, struggled throughout the night. Moore, the 5’10 point guard from Washington D.C. went 1-6 from the floor for 3 points, grabbed 3 rebounds and dished out one assist. Quinton Rose, the 6’6 guard from Rochester, NY, only scored 5 points on 2 of 5 shooting. On a positive note, Rose did grab 7 rebounds, one being a huge offensive rebound that led to an and-one which cut the Wildcats’ lead to 3, but Rose needs to play a larger role in the offense. Both of these freshmen are extremely promising players and are somewhat-unfairly being force-fed huge roles for an Owls team that won 21 games last season, but these guards need to try and play consistent basketball for Temple on a nightly basis in order for the team to be successful. Most freshmen in college basketball spend their first year learning the speed of the game and improving their body for the high level of basketball, but Coach Fran Dunphy has no other option but to play the freshmen, and play them often, with such a slim backcourt as Josh Brown continues to recover from his Achilles injury and Trey Lowe redshirts this season.
Catch the Owls next
The Owls will look to bounce back as they travel to Amherst, Massachusetts to play the UMASS Minutemen on Thursday, November 17th at 7 pm.