WRITTEN BY TOM HANSLIN @tomhanslin
ORLANDO– Jaylen Bond earned a double-double in his last meeting against South Florida in Philadelphia one month ago, and on Friday, he put on a similar show in Orlando, posting 17 points and eight rebounds in No. 1 Temple’s 79-62 win over No. 9 South Florida, advancing the Owls to the American Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals.
Bond, who was one of five Owls scorers in double-digits, finished the afternoon 8-12 from the field, adding on four steals and three assists to his name.
“Our goal is to win this tournament,” Bond said.
Temple opened the first half making four of their first five baskets, posting a total of 13 points at the 14-minute mark. But South Florida would respond with a 9-0 run midway through the half, cutting the Owls’ lead to five, 23-18, with six minutes remaining. Despite a shift in momentum, Temple continued to add on buckets in the paint, maintaining an 11-point lead until Bulls’ guard Jahmal McMurray drained a three-point buzzer-beater, cutting the score to 35-27 at halftime.
The second half would quickly return to the Owls’ favor, as two consecutive buckets from forward Obi Enechionyia initiated a 7-0 run in the first three minutes. From there, South Florida was unable to stop the bleeding, as 14 more points were tacked on to their deficit, trailing by 20, 56-36 midway through the half. Bond, who earned eight first half points, would add nine more of his own in the latter, allowing Temple to push away for a second consecutive trip to the AAC semifinals.
Despite making only three field goals on 13 shots, Owls’ senior guard Quenton DeCosey finished with 14 points, earning seven points from the charity stripe, while sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia added 13 points for his eighth straight game with double-digit scoring.
“I think we have a lot of fight,” said Enechionyia. “We’re a lot more focused this year, and we’re ready.”
Off of the bench, sixth man Devin Coleman made four buckets for 10 points, and forward Mark Williams went 3-4 in three-point goals, a season-high.
The game’s leading scorer was Bulls’ guard Chris Perry, who finished with 19 points and eight boards, while freshman guard Jahmal McMurray tallied 16.
Temple led South Florida in rebounds, 36-34, assists, 18-9. and forced 15 Bulls’ turnovers.
With the victory, the Owls improved to a record of 21-10, and will face the winner of the No.4/No. 5 matchup between Connecticut and Cincinnati on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.