Written By: Jake Gabel
Photo Courtesy of: @TUMBBHoops
Philadelphia, Pa – Late game free throws for the Owls allowed Temple to squeak past the Delaware Blue Hens 75-74.
With 56 seconds left in the game, Khalif Battle broke away for a fastbreak dunk to give Temple a 71-67 lead. The Blue Hens’ Dylan Painter followed up with a dunk of his own to make it a 71-69 ballgame.
Down two with 28 seconds left, Delaware double-teamed and intentionally fouled Temple’s Jeremiah Williams. Williams then proceeded to quickly extend his arms close to the face of Delaware’s Kevin Anderson.
“I swear I didn’t know I flailed my arms like that,” Williams said. “Silly play.”
The play resulted in a technical on Williams. The Owls’ guard made his two free throws to make it a 73-69 game. Delaware was then granted two free throws and the ball back. Anderson made both free throws, to make it a 73-71 contest, but the Blue Hens were stopped by Temple’s defense.
Temple guard Tai Strickland ended up with the ball and was immediately fouled. Strickland made his two free throws to extend the lead to 75-71. With just five seconds left, Anderson made a miraculous running three-pointer for the Blue Hens to make it a one-point game.
That sent Temple’s Damian Dunn to the line after a foul from Delaware. Dunn missed his free throw, and Delaware’s Jameer Nelson Jr. came up well short on his half-court heave as time expired.
Khalif Battle followed up his 28 point performance last game against Elon with a 29 point outing against Delaware. Battle is Temple’s leading scorer and now leads the AAC averaging 21.3 points per game.
Anderson and Painter led the way for the Blue Hens. Anderson with 26 points and Painter with 21, both season highs. Temple’s Dunn had 13 points and Williams ended up with 11.
Last season for Temple, they had 10 games that were decided by single digits. The Owls went 3-7 in those games.
“Coach McKie did a great job this summer. Last year we lost a lot of games in close-game situations. This summer, three times a week we went over late-game situations,” Battle said. “I think we will find ourselves in games like that a lot this year. Being able to practice during the summer on ways to close them out, I think it showed tonight.”
Over the Owls’ first four games, they struggled at the free-throw line shooting 61% going 46 for 75. In their last two victories, they have gone 37 for 44, with a much improved 84%. Temple went 13 for 15 from the line in this one alone.
“We are taking steps. It’s a win, an ugly win. We have to keep building. The overall game we have to get better at in every aspect,” McKie said. “We got off to a slow start with unforced turnovers and that dug a hole for us. It just sucked the energy out of us so we just have to find a way to get off to better starts, finish halves, and play a 40 minute game.”
With another home win, Temple improves to 2-1 on Broad St. According to Battle, having fans back in the stands is a big help compared to last year’s season without fans due to the COVID pandemic.
“It was dead. Nobody was in here. You take that for granted. You come in on a game day, you look at the crowd and there is nobody there,” Battle said. “You’re kind of like ‘Huh, we have to find our own energy.’ To have the fans here, it means the world.”
The Owls even their record at 3-3 with this win over Delaware. Meanwhile, the Blue Hens fall to 4-3 on the season.
For Temple, their next game is against La Salle at home on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. It will be a battle of Philadelphia hoops in the City 6 matchup.