From the opening tip, it was evident that the Temple Owls’ shot was a bit off.
If the Owls were going to avoid giving LIU Brooklyn their first win of the season, they were going to need to grit this game out and battle in the paint.
They did just that, utilizing a career-high in rebounds by Jaylen Bond to help spark a strong second half and top the Blackbirds 70-56.
LIU would waste little time in taking advantage of Temple’s early shooting woes, taking a 16-7 lead, as the Owls shot just 2-for-10 from the field to start the game.
Temple would battle through their early struggles, taking a 25-22 lead on a three by Will Cummings. The Owls would then be outscored 12-2 to close the first half, however, as they went to the locker room trailing 34-27.
The Owls shot would be off from all over in the first half, as Temple shot just 33.3 percent from the field, 6.7 percent (1-15) from three and 46.2 percent from the foul line.
Fran Dunphy’s squad would need to regroup.
With their shooting somewhat improved in the second half, the Owls would do just that, as Quenton DeCosey hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Owls a 46-45 lead with 14:08 remaining in the game.
“I think everybody kind of realized we can’t just walk on to the court and get wins,” Will Cummings said. “That’s not how it works. You have to work hard.”
From there, the Owls would begin to take command, clamping down on defense and picking up the pace offensively, to finish the game on a the game on 30-11 run to top LIU Brooklyn 70-56.
Much of the Owls success in the second half could be attributed to rebounding, as Temple pulled down 30 boards in the half, including 12 on the offensive glass. The Owls would make the Blackbirds pay for the extra opportunities, scoring 21 second chance points, 15 of which came in the second half.
Jaylen Bond would serve as a catalyst for the Owls in the win, recording his first double-double in a Temple uniform, as the junior forward pulled down 13 rebounds (seven offensive) to go along with 11 points.
“It’s [offensive rebounding] an unbelievable asset to your team. He’s [Bond] so quick to the ball and so strong and so smart as to where the ball is coming off. He reads where the ball is coming off as good as anybody I know,” Dunphy said. “And you get your team an extra possession. Either a stick back for points or a kick out. Its demoralizing to the opposition when you give up a lot of offensive rebounds.”
Bond’s contributions were welcomed by the Owls, but this Temple squad will need to improve immensely if they wish to put last season in the rearview mirror.
With three of their next four games coming against Big 5 opponents, the Owls are in for a true test over the next two weeks.
“As far as better, we have to get tougher,” Cummings said. “Those [Big 5] games are all about toughness.”
By: Kyle Babcock
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