By: Dan Wilson
VILLANOVA – When the Temple and Villanova went into the halftime locker room, the Owls trailed by just one point and they were winning the rebound battle 17-14.
Despite a 10-2 run to start the second half on Wednesday night, the Owls fell to the Wildcats 69-59, allowing points on all of Villanova’s final 15 possessions, dropping to 7-2 on the season.
The Wildcats out re-bounded the Owls 36-28, with 11 of Villanova’s rebounds coming on the offensive glass.
Villanova was led by Jermaine Samuels, as the sophomore forward finished the night with 15 points on 4-6 (3-3) shooting and seven rebounds in just 16 minutes off the bench. Samuels scored all 15 of his points and grabbed all 7 of his boards in the second half, notching a career-high in points and tying his career-high in rebounds.
Senior Eric Paschall, who is averaging 15.6 points per game on 44.6 percent shooting for Villanova this season, had 10 points on just 3-15 (0-6) shooting while also grabbing 7 rebounds and a team-high three offensive rebounds.
Phil Booth, the Wildcats leading scorer with 16.9 points per game, was held to just nine points on 2-7 (1-2) shooting. The senior guard was held under 10 points for just the second time this season, the other instance coming in Villanova’s 73-46 blowout loss to Michigan on November 14th.
“I’m sure Temple’s scouting report said stop Phil Booth and Eric Paschall,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “We know how good [Samuels] can be and for him to step up tonight and prove that in a big game really gives our team a lot of confidence.”
“We were focussed on stopping Booth and Paschall and Samuels really came up big for them,” Owls senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. said.
The Owls weren’t exactly led in scoring by a usual suspect either. Sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis scored a season-high 19 points on 7-12 (0-2) shooting. The only other time Pierre-Louis led the Owls in scoring this season was in the team’s other loss, as he led the Owls with 11 points in the teams 57-51 loss to VCU.
Three-point shooting woes continue to be a concern for Temple, as the Owls shot just 28.6 percent from three in the game.
“Our offense and our ball-movement needs to be better,” Owls head coach Fran Dunphy said. “That and our decision making.”
The Owls led by as much as seven points with just over 16 minutes left in the second half, a lead they saw slip away in under three minutes.
“We had a nice lead,” Alston Jr. said. “Programs like Villanova, when they get the lead they step on you and that’s what we didn’t do tonight.”