WRITTEN BY TOM HANSLIN @tomhanslin
After claiming a win over Delaware in Temple basketball’s home opener last Sunday, the Owls were home for a second straight game Wednesday night, where they held off Fairleigh Dickinson, 79-70 for their second consecutive victory.
Seniors Quenton DeCosey and Jaylen Bond combined for 40 points and 12 rebounds, while DeCosey shot 7 of 11 from the field with Bond matching at 8 of 11.
“We work on our jump shooting every day in practice, but I felt like we had the advantage inside tonight,” said Bond, who earned double-digit points for the fourth time this season. “We had to pound it inside and get some easy buckets.”
Fairleigh Dickinson opened the game strong on the offensive end, as the Knights made their first three baskets from behind the three-point arc. Temple responded with seven buckets of their own, and extended their lead to 17-11 midway through the first half.
Ten first half fouls by the Knights sent Temple to the free throw line six times, as they tacked on twelve points from the stripe, extending their lead to 34-21 with less than three minutes remaining. In the closing minutes, Fairleigh Dickinson generated a spark on offense once again, and concluded the half on an unanticipated 13-2 run, trimming the Owls’ lead to two, 36-34 at halftime.
Temple committed eight turnovers in the first twenty minutes, which resulted in ten points for the Knights. Sophomore guard Earl Potts, Jr. led all scorers with 16 points for the Knights, and tallied four of six shots from three point range. While Temple outscored Fairleigh Dickinson 13-2 in bench points, both teams tied with 14 points in the paint.
“We had some mental lapses on both ends of the court that we can’t have if we want to be a good team,” said Bond. “We just have to take care of the ball, be smart, have better decision making.”
The second half opened with a commanding 13-5 run from Temple, as Bond earned two quick buckets to make the score 49-39 Owls five minutes in. Midway through the second, Temple regrouped on both ends of the court, and posted a 15 point lead, 58-43 at the 11 minute mark. The resurgence had the Owls on a roll, as Temple began to pull away with a 22 point lead with 8:23 left in regulation.
Fairleigh Dickinson continued to display their undisciplined defense, as the Knights totaled 19 personal fouls with six minutes remaining. But the Knights’ offense continued to play with resilience, and forced another crunch time scare in the closing minutes. Forced to place Temple at the free throw line, the Knights ultimately ran out of time, as the Owls made 25 free throws – the most made this season so far.
“We need to get to the line and we need to shoot them at the percentage we shot at today,” said Owls’ head coach Fran Dunphy.
Knights’ guard Earl Potts, Jr. led all scorers with 29 points (10-15 FG, 6-8 3FG), while Farleigh Dickinson finished shooting 44.6 percent from the field. Temple made 25 of 53 buckets (47%), and outscored the Knights in bench points, 17-4, and points in the paint, 36-30.
DeCosey, who finished with 22 points and went 7 of 7 from the free throw line, said that he was looking to limit forced shots.
“I’m just trying to come out aggressive and just let the game come to me,” said DeCosey.
All ten Owls that saw playing time earned at least two points, while the team tallied 18 assists. Junior guard Josh Brown also had a career-high in assists (7) and rebounds (6).
“Everybody wants to contribute,” DeCosey said. “Some guys may think it’s all about scoring, but it’s not.”
The victory improved Temple’s record to 3-3, with their next game out west in Madison, Wisconsin against the Wisconsin Badgers on CBS this Saturday at noon.
“We’re playing a terrific program in a place where [Wisconsin] doesn’t lose much,” said Dunphy. “We had two home games, and we needed to win both of these games and we need to play our very best basketball against a really good program on Saturday.”