After a two-year absence from the Big Dance, the Owls appear to be trending in the right direction at the right time.
On Thursday night, behind a balanced effort that included five double-digit scorers, Temple defeated Memphis 72-62 to improve to 19-10 and clinch the number one seed in the AAC Tournament next week.
“It means a lot, but we have a lot more work to do,” Josh Brown said of clinching the number one seed. “We’re not settling for the number one seed. We just want to continue to win games and make our bid for the tournament.”
The Owls would stretch their lead to as large as 12 before heading to the locker room up 39-30, but would be unable to break the game completely open as Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin poured in 14 first half points.
In the second half, however, senior Jaylen Bond would find an answer for Goodwin, holding him to just two points and two rebounds.
“I had to take it personally,” Bond said of shutting down Goodwin in the second half. “Find him on the glass and box him out whenever I could.”
The Owls would remain in control until just past the midpoint in the half, when the Tigers put together a run that saw Temple’s lead cut to just 60-57. Temple would remain poised, however, collecting a 72-62 win to improve to 13-4 in conference play.
“We just had to get together and keep trusting each other down the stretch. Devin (Coleman) hit a big shot to put us up seven,” Quenton DeCosey said of weathering the late storm. “So we just have to keep battling and close it out.”
Bond led the way for the Owls in the victory, recording a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds and perhaps more importantly, shutting down Goodwin in the second half. Two other Temple seniors would finish in double figures, as DeCosey and Devin Coleman pitched in 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Brown added a balanced effort for the Owls as well, scoring 12 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out eight assists to go along with zero turnovers.
“I’m just trying to take care of the ball and not hurt myself or the team,” Brown said of his low turnovers of late. “I know if we don’t turnover the ball, we don’t hurt ourselves. Just making sure to try and be aggressive without being passive, but it’s a timing thing.”
Timing is everything come tournament time, and with Brown hitting his stride at the point, Temple finds itself with its NCAA Tournament hopes looking increasingly upward.
Temple will now visit Tulane to close out the regular season before they head to the AAC Tournament, and hopefully, the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
By: Kyle Babcock
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