Behind by one point at the half, 36-35, the Temple Owls, led by Ramone Moore’s 23 second half points, beat the struggling Villanova Wildcats 78-67 at the Liacouras Center on Saturday afternoon (before a crowd of 10,206). All in all, Moore scored a season (and career) high 32 points to lead the Owls to the victory in the hotly contested Big Five game.
The contest saw the score tied eight times, and the lead changed 11 times, before the Owls pulled ahead for good 56-54 on a basket by T.J. DiLeo with under 8 minutes left in the game. Moore then scored nine of Temple’s next eleven points to help expand the Owls lead to nine, 67-58. The Wildcats came no closer than seven points the rest of the way. With the win, Temple improved its record to 6-2, 2-0 Big Five. Villanova dropped to 5-4, 2-1 Big Five.
The Wildcats got out to a 7-2 lead, with Jayvaughn Pinkston contributing 5 points early. The Owls quickly caught up and took the lead 8-7 on a throw down by Anthony Lee. The teams then traded the lead back and forth, until Temple went on a 10-2 run to take a 23-15 lead, with Khalif Wyatt and Rahir Hollis-Jefferson pacing the way. The Wildcats returned the favor by going on a 15-4 run to take the lead back 30-27. The lead changed hands several more times before Mouph Yarou closed out the first half, scoring on a bucket with 33 seconds remaining, to give the visitors the halftime lead 36-35. Maalik Wayns was the high scorer for the Cats in the first half with 13. Wyatt led the Owls with 11.
At the half, the Temple football team was honored for earning a Bowl appearance (vs. Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl on December 17th).
The second half was also a see-saw battle with the lead changing hands several times. Temple forged into the lead 50-47 on a trey by Ramone Moore, before Villanova re-tied the score at 54-54 on a put-back by James Bell. The Owls then ran off ten straight points to take a 64-54, with Moore scoring 6 of the 10. The Owls would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
For the Owls, Moore was joined in double figures by Khalif Wyatt (who hobbled off at the 1:42 mark) with 13 points, and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, who had a double-double with 11 points and a game high 14 rebounds. Juan Fernandez handed out 4 assists.
For Villanova, Maalik Wayns was the leading scorer with 23 points. He was joined in double figures by Yarou (14 points) and Dominic Cheek with 10 (all in the first half). Yarou was also the Wildcats leading rebounder with 8. Wayns had 7 assists to pace Villanova.
Temple, for the game, shot 43.8 % from the field, hitting 28 of 64 shots. From the charity stripe, the Owls shot 18 for 24 (75 %) and a tepid 4 of 17 (23.5%) three point shots. Temple pulled down 39 rebounds, breaking even with Villanova on the boards. Villanova shot 24 of 59 field goal attempts (40.7%), and hit 16 of 24 free throw attempts (66.7%). Nova shot an ice cold 3 of 20 three point shots (15%), including 0 for 9 in the second half.
For Temple the win was their 24th in a row at the Liacouras Center. The Owls, who have now won three straight, travel to Austin, Texas to play the University of Texas Longhorns next Saturday, December 17. Villanova, which has now lost four of their last five games, next plays Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Boston University Terriers.
In attendance at the game was Phillies free-agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins as well as several potential Temple recruits.