The Temple men's basketball team shot 24.1 percent in a 57-50 loss to UNLV at the Barclay's Center on Saturday night.
The unsettling defeat came one night after the Owls shot 37.3 percent in a 74-54 loss to Duke on Friday.
So when the Owls opened their Big Five slate on Tuesday night with a home game against Penn, they were looking for a little offensive spark - and Mark Williams gave it to them.
The sophomore, who shot 1-for-10 in the loss to the Runnin' Rebels, poured in a career-high 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting to lead the Owls past the winless Quakers, 76-67.
"You know it's funny, they came into the game they were shooting 21 percent on three, so the law of averages says pack the paint and make them hit shots," said Penn coach Jerome Allen. "To his credit, he hit them. They needed an offensive boost, and he was there to deliver it."
Added Williams: "It's basketball. The good thing about it is you live to play another day, so when we got back everyone got focused and it was on to the next one. It felt good, but ultimately the goal is to win, so we won and that's all that matters."
Temple improved to 3-2 on the season, while Penn dropped to 0-4. The Owls finished with a respectable 43.4 percent shooting - though still struggled from beyond the arc, going 6-for-24 with bigs Williams, Daniel Dingle and Jaylen Bond going 3-for-14.
"We shot a lot of threes, 24 threes is a lot but they played us a lot of zone," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "There weren't a lot of forced threes, but we're not a power team. We can't pound it in there, because we don't have a lot of inside game, but the best way to play is to get it inside, let the defense collapse and kick it out for a jumper or go-by. We still need a lot of work."
Will Cummings added 16 points to go along with five assists and just one turnover in 40 minutes, Quenton DeCosey added 14 and Josh Brown added 11 for the Owls in a solid all-around performance. The Owls will need more like it - especially as they wait for Jesse Morgan and Devin Coleman to become eligible on Dec. 18.
The Owls also played solid defense with 10 steals - three each from DeCosey, Brown and Jaylen Bond. Temple led by seven at the half and Penn cut it to one in the second half and was within three with 1:45 to play, but a pair of Williams free throws made it a two-possession game and the Owls pulled away.
Despite the balance, it was Williams' night. He was so hot, he even showed off a nifty left-handed finish off a spin move. It's a move Williams said he has in his repertoire, but Dunphy has recommended against it.
"I came in, I used to always do that and Coach Dunphy kind of got me away from it," said Williams. "Today I was feeling it ... As long as you make it."
"Yeah, I was a little surprised that went in," said Dunphy with a touch of sarcasm. "I was grateful, thankful in this holiday season. The percentage of making that is probably somewhere in the low teens, so it's probably not a good shot ... But it went in, so I won't yell at him too much tonight. Maybe when we watch the film, I'll say 'Yo, my man, what's up with this?'"
Mark Williams' 24 leads Temple over Penn
Owls Daily Top Stories
Enechionyia-Alston Temple-Tulsa PostgameOwls drop to 1-5 in AAC play with 70-68 loss to Tulsa
Dingle-Aflakpui Temple-Cincinnati PostgameOwls drop American opener to Bearcats, 56-50
Temple drops close game to CincinnatiThe Owls came close to knocking off the No. 23 team, but injuries, foul trouble and a cold shooting night led to the defeat