By JAMES HILL
When it mattered most, Anthony Lee took over for Temple.
The junior forward scored seven of Temple’s eight points in the decisive 8-2 run en route to a 77-69 win over Big Five rival Saint Joseph’s. He put the final nail in the Hawks’ coffin by grabbing a rebound off his own missed free throw with 28 seconds left.
He was the only Owl in the lane on the play.
“Often times those things don’t get counted because they say you went over the line,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. “They take it away from you…. It was one of those lucky plays where the sea opened up for him and he got a chance to get that rebound.”
That play, with Temple leading by four, allowed Lee to go back to the line. He sunk the next two to push the Temple lead to six. The Owls hung on from there. Lee finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, his third double-double of the season, and made 7 of 8 attempts from the line.
“I was just able to keep myself prepared and open for when I was going to get the ball – just being poised,” said Lee. “I’ve been practicing my free throws because I’ve been getting fouled down the stretch.”
The game was exactly what you’d expect from a Big Five matchup: a passionate crowd and clever rollouts off the floor, back-and-forth and physical play on the floor. It lead to another classic Big Five game that featured 17 lead changes and 14 ties and where neither team lead by more than five points until the final minute.
For the Hawks, the game turned out to be another close call at a quality win that slipped away at the end.
“For the first time this season, we weren’t the team attacking – we were reacting,” Saint Joseph’s point guard Chris Wilson said. “I think that we didn’t have our normal level of aggressiveness in transition or in the half-court. For whatever reason, we just didn’t come out with that mind-set to attack from the start. On top of that, we missed a lot of easy layups, dunks, and open shots.”
Langston Galloway led the way for the Hawks in another strong shooting performance, scoring 24 points on 6-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc. Aside from him, the Hawks struggled from the floor, going more than 13 minutes in the second half without a field goal from someone other than Galloway – a drought that was capped by a Wilson lay-in with seven seconds to play.
“We needed to make a more complete offensive game,” Phil Martelli explained. “I’m not leaving here worried about offense. I’m worried about the turnovers and some of our decision-making.”
The Hawks turned the ball over 15 times on the night and shot 38.5 percent from the floor. Not counting Galloway, St. Joe’s went 0-for-14 from beyond the arc.
“We were not doing the proper things: we weren’t setting screens, we weren’t running plays the right way,” Halil Kanacevic said. “It was just a number of things. It’s on the players – we need to run our stuff cleaner.”
One of the most glaring statistical differences in the game was the bench scoring. Temple got 25 points from its reserves, led by Quenton DeCosey’s 10 points, while the Hawks only managed two points off the bench. The Owls’ depth made all the difference in the win, as Will Cummings and Dalton Pepper – who led the Owls tonight with 16 points apiece – missed significant time in the second half with cramps.
“It was crazy, we were just throwing guys in there hoping,” Dunphy said. “I thought Josh Brown did a real good job with his minutes. He made a big-time shot in the second half and made his two foul shots down the stretch. Some of those younger guys are having to play and are doing a good job.”
The Owls were able to do what they failed to do in losses against Kent State and Towson earlier in the season: finish off an opponent in a close game. Coming out of the final media timeout to a 65-all tie with 3:53 to play, Temple closed the game on a 12-4 run.
“We did a real good job down the stretch today, but I think we’re still a work in progress,” Dunphy said. “We need to continue to understand what it’s going to take and how good we have to be defensively… We took a few crazy shots down the stretch we probably can’t do, but I thought our defense was pretty good. Hopefully we’re understanding.”
The end result was Temple prolonging its domination of Saint Joseph’s in the Liacouras Center. It has now been five straight losses for the Hawks on Broad Street, dating back to January 2008.
Postgame Press Conferences
Click link below for Phil Martelli audio.