The Temple University basketball team won a game in November that could pay dividends in March.
Of course after the Owls throttled Kansas last year as part of a 23-win season, it was assumed they would be given a bid to the NCAA Tournament. That turned out not to be the case.
Still, Temple’s opening win of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, 75-70, over Minnesota – and first win of the season after a loss in the opener against No. 1 North Carolina – was an impressive one against a young but talented Big Ten team that should win its share of games.
Minnesota entered the game at 2-0.
“I'm proud of the guys," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy in his post-game press conference. "They did well to get that nine-point lead but played poorly to lose it, but we got it back together again and I hope that’s a sign of things to come for us.”
Temple will now face its second Top 25 team in its first three games when it plays No. 22 Butler in Friday’s tournament semifinals.
The Owls controlled most of the game, but went through a nearly fatal second-half stretch where Minnesota out-scored Temple, 17-2, to go from nine down to six up at 56-50.
But the Temple defense clamped down and allowed just one field goal in the final eight minutes to put the game away. Senior Jaylen Bond led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore Obi Enechionyia, who missed the opener against North Carolina with an ankle injury, showed how much he means to the Owls this year, scoring 14 points in 22 minutes.
‘He’s an X-factor for us,” said Dunphy. “He’s such a dangerous jump shooter. You hope he can go on some runs like he did today. He’ll ice his ankle up and see if he can go (Friday).”
Senior guard Devin Coleman continued to flourish with 15 points, including a big three-pointer that stopped the Minnesota run.
“We just had to execute and pull ourselves back up,” said Coleman.
Junior point guard Josh Brown struggled with his shooting and some foul trouble, scoring just four points on free throws at the end of the game, but had seven assists without a turnover.
Freshman Trey Lowe scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench.