The Temple Owls have made a habit of winning with solid, intense defense this season. Occasionally, they’ve relied on three-point shooting.
On Saturday, however, Coach Fran Dunphy’s squad found a new formula for success.
Jaylen Bond grabbed 16 rebounds and Will Cummings had 17 points, seven boards, and six assists as Temple dominated the glass on the way to a 66-53 victory over East Carolina at The Liacouras Center.
The Owls compiled a 30-10 rebounding advantage in the first half, and finished with a 49-26 edge. All those extra possessions made a difference in a game where Temple shot 37 percent from the floor and ECU shot 35 percent.
Bond alone had nine rebounds in the first nine minutes – five on the offensive glass – exploiting huge gaps in ECU’s zone defense.
The Owls missed eight of their first nine three-point attempts, but still had a 22-13 lead after Devin Coleman hit the team’s second three with 6:19 left in the half. They closed the half with a 15-4 run, getting a pair of late threes from Josh Brown and Jesse Morgan to grab a 34-18 advantage.
Besides dominating the glass, the Owls also locked down ECU’s top perimeter threats in the opening stanza. The Pirates came in ranked third in the AAC in three-pointers made and fourth in three-point percentage. Cummings and his backcourt mates limited them to 1 for 7 shooting from three in the first half.
The Pirates competed better on the glass and found some room on the perimeter – hitting 7 of 15 threes – in the second half. But they never cut Temple’s lead to single digits.
Morgan hit 3 of 9 threes and finished with 14 points, while Brown added 10 points. But instead of the usual perimeter-oriented attack, the Owls scored 28 points in the paint and shot 25 free throws. ECU shot nine.
Temple started the game with a different look, as Dunphy benched Devontae Watson and Quenton DeCosey because they were late with an assignment this week. Mark Williams and Daniel Dingle stepped into the lineup and both contributed – Williams totaling eight points and four rebounds and Dingle pulling down nine boards.
Afterward, Dunphy said it is likely that Watson and DeCosey will be back in the starting lineup when the Owls travel to SMU on Thursday night. He also said freshman Obi Enechioniya will definitely be available for that game – and could have played against ECU if needed. Enechioniya has been sidelined with an ankle injury.
The Owls have won seven straight since losing three straight to Tulsa, SMU, and Cincinnati in mid-January. Saturday’s win pushed their overall record to 19-7, 11-3 in AAC play. ECU is 11-14, 4-8 in the AAC.
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