Temple Beats Penn for Second Straight Big 5 Win, as Dunn and Forrester Score Career Highs
Written By: Jake Gabel
Photo Courtesy of: @TUMBBHoops
Philadelphia, Pa – After beating LaSalle in their last matchup, Temple won another Big 5 game, this time against Penn, 81-72. Damian Dunn and Jake Forrester both posted career highs in points with 27 and 21, respectively.
This was Temple’s first game without star player Khalif Battle. Battle went down in the team’s previous game, a win against LaSalle. It was announced that he is done for the season on Thursday with a fractured fifth metatarsal. Battle was averaging 21.4 points per game, to lead the AAC.
“It’s kind of hard to put into words. He’s just so special. You don’t come around guys like that too often,” Dunn said. “He talks to us all the time to keep playing, keep winning, and at the end of the day we do our best to do it for him, and win for him because we know that he would kill to be out there on the court with us.”
The Owls got off to an electric start against the Quakers. Newcomer to the Temple starting lineup Quincy Ademokoya hit two threes in the first four minutes of the game. Ademokoya had entered the game having only played 16 minutes in the team’s first seven games.
“I haven’t started a game in two years, so I had a lot of nerves,” Ademokoya said. “Opened the game up with two back-to-back threes and this guy right here (points to Forrester) was playing out of his mind, along with Dunn.”
Damian Dunn got off to a red-hot start for the cherry and white. Dunn made all of his shots in the first 10 minutes of the game, with three mid range jumpers and six free throws for 12 points.
Jahlil White had himself an electric sequence early in the game. On defense, White came out of nowhere to block the shot of Penn’s Jelani Williams. White then took it himself on offense and kissed the glass to make a heavily contested layup.
Penn went on a 7-0 run of its own late in the first half. Ignited by a highlight play by their leading scorer Jordan Dingle. Dingle made the Temple defense look silly, with a gorgeous crossover-behind the back combo to shake off Jeremiah Williams and then hit a sky-high floater over the seven-foot wingspan of Jake Forrester.
At the end of the first half, Dunn led the Owls with 17 points. Forrester also had a strong half, going three of three from the field, adding on three free throws for nine points, four rebounds, and a block. Dingle was the high man for the Quakers at the break with 10 points.
Forrester set a season-high of 12 points last game, and then followed that up with a career-high of 21 points. He attributes being a veteran college player among other things as to how he has found his recent success.
“I’ve been in college for a long time now, so, visualize at nighttime, coming in, getting in shots, working on shots,” Forrester said. “Take practice like games and it makes the game easier.”
Just like the first half, Temple started the second half off scoring efficiently in a little amount of time. They scored 12 points in less than the first three and a half minutes of the second half.
Forrester dominated that stretch. He had an and-one layup, an alley-oop dunk thanks to a lob from Williams, and then posterized a poor soul on the Quakers, leading to seven very fast points for the big man.
“If you have the ability just dunk it, everything in the paint,” Forrester said. “My dad text me before the game, ‘Dunk everything’. That is what I’m trying to do.”
Michael Wang broke out in a major way in the second half for Penn, leading his team on an 18-7 run late. The 6’10” big man finished with 21 points after having just four points in the first half.
Wang’s performance and Dingle’s 22 points made the game a lot closer at the end, but it was not enough. Temple led by as much as 20 points at one point in the game, and the closest the Quakers got it to was a seven-point lead.
The 81 points the Owls scored is the most they have scored since February of 2020 when Temple beat UConn in a double-overtime thriller 93-89.
Penn head coach Steve Donahue believed that the Temple offense was actually harder to defend with Battle not playing. Temple head coach Aaron McKie disagreed.
“This is nothing against Battle, but whenever you have a scorer, and his numbers are ridiculous, they are very efficient, but if you watch them, the offense is kind of stagnant when he has it. When he doesn’t have it he isn’t really a part of their offense,” Donahue said. “I thought today, the offense was much more fluid, hence harder to guard. You could feel that they were much more connected offensively, the ball moved better.”
“Well, the offense always looks good when you make shots. I watch a lot of basketball. We always talk about plays, coaches running plays, and when you watch the NBA game, they don’t run plays,” McKie said. “They get it to their best players and those guys make shots and everybody thinks it’s just great offense and movement and things like that. You just find ways or situations to get your best players the ball, in their spots where they’re comfortable and when they’re making shots it looks good.”
The Quakers fall to 3-8 on the season and look forward to two more Big 5 matchups in their next two games. First against Saint Joseph’s, and then against LaSalle.
For the Owls, they have won four in a row and improve to 5-3. They travel down to Tennessee to take on Vanderbilt, who is 5-2 on the season. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on Dec. 7.