Temple Owls Declaw Towson Tigers in Convincing Fashion

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The Temple Owls hosted the Towson Tigers at the Liacouras Center on Wednesday, December 12th. Temple was looking to rebound after their first loss of the season, a blow-out at the hands of Duke at the IZOD Center in northern New Jersey. Meanwhile, Towson entered the game having nearly upset the Georgetown Hoyas in their previous match up.

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The Owls opened the game on a 5-0 run, which could have been much higher had they capitalized on any of their next three possessions. Despite numerous opportunities, Towson struggled to find their shot. At the 11:10 mark, Temple found themselves ahead 18-11, led by Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson’s 9 points. Fran Dunphy’s squad quickly extended the lead to double digits, 22-11, following back to back buckets by Daulton Pepper and Anthony Lee.

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Towson then drained two straight baskets of their own (including one by Jerrelle Benimon, who had 11 of Towson’s first 15 points) before Hollis-Jefferson drew two free throws. He hit the first, and missed the second. Lee hit a bucket on Temple’s next trip down to extend the lead back to 10, 25-15.

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In addition to their shooting troubles, Towson also committed several unforced turnovers which prevented them from cutting into the Temple lead when the Owls also hit a cold-streak from the field. Benimon finally broke the scoring drought at the 5:30 mark, and after another Temple miss, the Tigers scored two more times on baskets by Marcus Damas and Rafriel Guthrie to cut the lead to 25-21.

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Khalif Wyatt was fouled shooting a three-pointer at the 3:35 mark and drained 2 of 3 to make it 27-21. Benimon scored again a minute later to cut the lead to four, 27-23. At the other end of the floor, Scootie Randall picked up his second foul on a charge call. After Temple drained a three-pointer with just under a minute to play and both teams hit some free-throws, and the Owls were up 6 points, 32-26, heading into intermission.

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Hollis-Jefferson paced the Owls in the first half with 10 points. Lee was also affective for Temple in the first half, scoring 8 points and pulling down a team-high 5 rebounds. Benimon led the Tigers in first half scoring and rebounding with 15 points and 6 boards. Temple won the battle of the boards in the first half 21-19. The Owls had 9 assists to 5 turnovers whereas the Tigers had just 2 assists to their 7 turnovers. Both teams shot under 40% from the field, 38.7% for Temple, 35.5% for Towson. The Owls hit 2 of their 8 three-point attempts which the Tigers missed all 8 of their long-range tries.

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Hollis-Jefferson scored on the opening play of the second half and after a shot-clock violation by Towson, Wyatt knocked down two free-throws to extend Temple’s lead back to 10, 36-26. Towson scored five of the next six times down the court, including three buckets (and a free-throw) by Benimon to cut the lead to 41-37 at the 15:05 mark. At this point Benimon already had a game high 22 points.

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Wyatt and Jake O’Brien then hit consecutive treys for Temple to put the lead right back to 10 points. A sweet no-look alley-oop dunk from Wyatt to Hollis-Jefferson at the 11:54 mark gave Temple their largest lead of the game (to this point), 51-39, which the Owls then extended to 53-39 before Benimon scored two more buckets, after pulling down his 10th rebound, to give him his sixth double-double of the year.

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After exchanging field-goals and free-throws on several possessions, Temple led by 13 points, 62-49, with just over 5 minutes to play. Temple extended the lead to 16 points with 2 minutes remaining in the game; it was their largest lead of the game. The Owls won by the final score of 72-61.

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Benimon had a monster double-double, a game high 30 points for Towson to go along with (a game high) 18 rebounds. He played all 40 minutes of the game. The only other Towson player scoring ten or more points was Damas who added 11 points and 6 boards.

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Randall had a double-double of his own for the Owls with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists. Hollis-Jefferson led the team in scoring with 20 points to go with his 6 boards and team-high 6 assists. Lee chipped in 10 points and 5 rebounds, and Wyatt added 11 points.

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Towson won the battle of the boards by a slight margin, 42-40. For the game, the Tigers shot 43.3% from the field but a miserable 1 of 14 (7.1%) from long range. They hit 8 of their 9 FT attempts. Temple shot 38.0% from the field on the night, including 4 of 17 from distance (23.5%). The Owls shot twice as many free throws as Towson, hitting 14 of 18 (77.8%). Towson had just 4 assists to go with 19 turnovers while Temple had 17 assists to just 8 turnovers.

The Owls next match-up comes on Monday, December 17th when they host Alcorn State at 7pm.

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[Photo credit: Steve Garfinkel Photography]

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