Written By: Jake Gabel
Photo Courtesy of: OwlSports.com
Philadelphia, Pa – The Owls won this battle of Philadelphia in a Big 5 matchup against LaSalle, winning 73-57. Temple got out to an early lead and never looked back against the Explorers.
Before leaving the game with 11 minutes to go due to an apparent leg injury, Khalif Battle scored 22 points. After the game, head coach Aaron McKie did not know the severity of the injury, or if Battle will be ready to play Saturday for Temple’s matchup against the University of Pennsylvania.
Besides Battle, Damian Dunn produced offensively for the Owls as well. Dunn shot 7-11 from the field, scoring 16 points. Sherif Kenney was LaSalle’s leading scorer with 23. Kenney was the only Explorer with double-digit points.
“My mentality is to keep being aggressive, and without [Battle] being on the floor and being a leader, I felt like I had to step up and step into that role,” Dunn said. “Be as aggressive as I can.”
The story of the first half was the three-point shooting. The Explorers were unable to hit a shot behind the arc the entire half, going 0-10. Meanwhile the Owls went an extremely efficient 4-8 from long range through the first 20 minutes.
At the halftime buzzer, the Owls lead 39-22. Battle led Temple with 15 points at the break, while LaSalle’s Clifton Moore led his team with seven.
A fight broke out with roughly one minute left in the first. Temple’s Nick Jourdain was not pleased after a foul was called on him. LaSalle’s Khalil Brantley let Jourdain hear it, which resulted in a light shove from Jourdain.
LaSalle’s Anwar Gill did not appreciate Jourdain shoving his teammate and shoved Jourdain back. Then teams had to be separated from one another. The dispute resulted in technicals on Jourdain, Brantley and Gill.
Both head coaches did not think much of it after the game. They both believe that things like that happen from time to time in competitive atmospheres.
“One of their guys trying to get an offensive rebound, one of our guys trying not to let them get it. They got tangled up. Then everybody starts yapping, the refs cleaned it up,” said LaSalle head coach Ashley Howard. “I think us getting our butts kicked, not being able to make a shot, and our guys being frustrated probably added to that.”
There were many highlight plays for the Owls in the second half. The first being an extremely acrobatic finish from Battle, where he brought the ball 360 degrees on his way to a layup.
A few plays later Battle thought he was about to get fouled behind the three-point arc so he threw up a wild shot and it went in. Later in the half, Jahlil White had a pretty spin move and pass to Jake Forrester for the aggressive slam dunk.
Forrester had his best game of the season. He had season highs in points (12), rebounds (8), and minutes (21). Another Owl who had a great game was Jeremiah Williams.
While Williams’ offensive stats of seven points and six assists may not jump off the page, he played lockdown defense the entire game, while also picking up two steals and a block.
The Owls as a whole played a great defensive game. Holding LaSalle to 17-68 shooting, only 25 percent from the field, their lowest mark of the season.
In the team’s film session leading up to the game, McKie had talked to his players about the importance of a Big 5 game.
“It was a unique opportunity for me, growing up watching it, playing it, and now I am coaching in it,” McKie said. “I always told those guys that for me it was for bragging rights. You see the same guys and coaches over the summer and you want to be able to have that one-up.”
For LaSalle, the loss puts them at 2-4 on the year. They try to snap a two-game losing streak on Dec. 4 at home against Holy Cross. The Explorers lost the game prior to another Big 5 team in Villanova.
As for Temple, they also have a second consecutive game against a member of the Big 5, this time it is Penn. The Quakers are 3-7, and they also come off of a loss to Villanova. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 at home in the Liacouras Center.