McKie Earns Win over Mentor Dunphy as Temple’s Dominant Second Half Defeats La Salle

Written by: Jacob Gabel

Photo by: Andrew Mayo

Philadelphia – After a sloppy first half, Temple dominated the second half to pick up the win against La Salle 67-51 in the first game of the Big 5 double-header at the Palestra. 

The big storyline heading into the game was the head coaching battle. Temple’s Aaron McKie was squaring off against the same man who hired him to be an assistant coach at Temple in 2014, Fran Dunphy. 

Both McKie and Dunphy did not like having to coach against one another. McKie described it as “unsettling,” while Dunphy said he told McKie after the game he was glad that it was over. 

“I don’t like to coach against Aaron McKie because I’m rooting for him like crazy,” Dunphy said. “Obviously, I’m not rooting for him tonight, but it’s a tough situation.”  

Dunphy, now the head coach of La Salle, was the head coach of the Owls from 2006-19. Dunphy led the Owls to eight March Madness trips, including six-straight trips from 2008-13. 

Points were hard to come by for both teams in the first half. The score sat at just 29-21 after the first 20 minutes. There was a seven-and-a-half minute stretch where La Salle did not score any points. That streak ended when the Explorer’s Anwar Gill delivered a beautiful pass to Rokas Jocius for the dunk. 

La Salle ended the first half on a 7-0 run over the final 2:30. Temple had three turnovers in that span, one leading to a fast break slam for the Explorer’s Khalil Brantley. Brantley led all scorers with 9 at the break. 

The 21 points Temple scored in the first half is tied for the least amount of points scored in any half this season.Temple scored 21 in the first half in their 61-49 loss to Richmond. The team shot just 32 percent. 

The Owls started the second half strong, going on a 13-4 run to make it a 34-33 game with 14 minutes remaining.

Guard Khalif Battle was in foul trouble early, picking up his fourth foul with over 10 minutes remaining in the game. This forced head coach Aaron McKie to sit Battle until under four minutes left in the game. 

For the second game in a row, sophomore forward Nick Jourdain played an important role in closing the game out. Jourdain had three blocks in the second half along with four rebounds and all of his seven points. 

Despite Battle, the team’s leading scorer, coming out of the game for seven minutes with 10:21 remaining in the second half, Temple dominated the stretch, closing out the game on a 28-10 run. 

The Owls outscored the Explorers 46-22 in the second half. Temple shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the second half and went 6-11 from three. La Salle shot just 9-34 in the final 20 minutes. 

Battle and guard Damian Dunn both shot the ball well, as Battle finished with 20 points while Dunn had 17 and a career-high six assists.

Despite averaging 29 points per game in the first three games of the season, Dunn has only averaged 7 points in the last four games. Dunn said taking the ball out of his hands more helped him bounce back tonight. 

“Getting off of the ball a little bit earlier,” Dunn said when asked what changed for him offensively. “Just trusting in guys like Zach, Khalif, Jamille, Jahlil, Hysier, they are going to make plays and trusting that.”  

La Salle falls to 3-4 on the season. The Explorers next game will be at the Palestra again, this time as visitors against Penn. 

The Owls improve to 4-4. They will take on VCU at the Liacouras Center on Saturday, December 3rd at 1 p.m. This is the first of a double-header, this time with Temple’s Women’s team playing directly after at 3 p.m. against UMBC.

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