Written and photo by: Sam Cohn
Temple went into the halftime locker room with a four point lead over No. 15 Villanova but the Wildcats prevailed to the tune of 13 second half 3’s.
The Wildcats claimed the Big 5 title with a 76-56 win over the Owls in front of a sold-out crowd.
Villanova junior guard Collin Gillespie single-handedly torched the Owls pouring in 29 points along with five assists and two boards. For most of the afternoon, Villanova ran their offense through Gillespie looking to drive-and-kick or get action off pick-and-rolls.
The Owls were led by 22 points from Quinton Rose and a 16-point double-double from Nate Pierre-Louis.
The junior captain tallied his fourth double-double of the season, his first time hitting that mark since the third game of the season.
Temple struggled to get going from beyond the arc hitting 2 of 16 and didn’t get much offensive production from their bench.
Monty Scott, Josh Pierre-Louis, and J.P. Moorman II combined for 10 total points.
“It’s been like a revolving door for us,” McKie said. “We would hope to get more consistency with guys being confident. We understand coming into the game what we have to do and we have to be near perfect on the defensive side.”
Defensively, their game plan was to push guys off the line and force them to make plays inside but a deep rotation gave them more playmaking options that Temple struggled with.
Villanova head coach Jay Wright credited their success to an ability to play more freely in the second half. With Jeremiah Robinson and Justin Moore both in foul trouble early, Wright had to look to his bench for support early on.
“In the first half we didn’t have Jeremiah who gets guys shots,” Wright said, “and we didn’t have Justin who makes shots.”
Robinson and Moore played just 24 and 18 minutes, respectively.
“We knew we had to make adjustments and stick to our game plan,” Gillespie said. “I think the second half we got stops on the defensive end that gave us opportunities on the offensive end.”
Villanova outscored Temple 50-26 in the second half while shutting down any hope of life from the Owls.
It was a tale of two halves for Temple as hopes to share the Big 5 title slipped out of their fingertips on Sunday afternoon. They drop to 13-12 on the season and look forward to finishing out their conference schedule starting with UConn on Thursday.