The eighth ranked Villanova Wildcats beat the twenty-fifth ranked Temple Owls 78-74 in a torrid game at the Pavilion on Thursday night. By winning, the Wildcats and coach Jay Wright once again won the Big Five title, finishing 4-0 in city series games. Villanova also stretched their winning streak at the Pavilion to 43 consecutive games.
Villanova trailed at the half 40-39 (after a buzzer beater by Maalik Wayns). Temple, coached by Fran Dunphy, was led in the first half by Ramone Moore who had 13 points and 5 rebounds. Juan Fernandez, who had a huge game against Villanova last year, contributed 12 points in the opening half. Temple shot 57.1 % from the field, including 6 of 11 on three point shots (54.5%). Temple held the edge in first half rebounding, 18-14. Villanova struggled from distance hitting only 2 of 7 three point attempts, both by Corey Stokes. Villanova did have 5 assists versus two turnovers in the half, Temple had 8 turnovers and 8 assists.
In the see-saw second half Villanova took command and took a ten point lead 55-45 on a bucket by Antonio Pena, culminating a 16-5 run. After a Mouphtaou Yarou basket made the score 57-47, the Owls went on a 13-0 run to turn a 10 point deficit into a 3 point lead with 9:08 left in the game.
The Wildcats fought back, sparked by Corey Stokes, to retake the lead for good. Temple went more then 7 minutes without a basket as the Wildcats build their lead to 73-66 with 1:20 left in the game. After a bucket by Temple’s Moore, Villanova stretched the lead to a 76-68 margin with less then 20 seconds remaining in the game. It was almost not enough as the Owls scored 6 quick points all by Lavoy Allen to make it 76-74. However, Maalik Wayns converted two foul shots to close out the victory 78-74.
Corey Stokes had 24 points to pace Villanova, including 5 three-point shots. Wayns contributed 21 points and had 8 assists. Mouphtaou Yarou ended up with 14 points. Antonio Pena was the Wildcats leading rebounder with 9.
After the game Jay Wright remarked “I keep telling him (Yarou) we want him to be like an African soccer player…those guys are tough!” Wright was pleased to play Temple right before the Wildcats begin the Big East portion of their schedule. “Temple is as tough defensively as any Big East team,” he added.
Temple’s high scorer was Allen who had 22 points. At the post-game press conference, Fernandez, who had 20 points (a season high) said, “If we are going to get to the tournament at the end of the season and win a few games, we’re going to have to beat teams like Villanova.” Ramone Moore and Scootie Randall also scored in double figures, Moore scored 16 and Randall 11. Allen was the leading rebounder for the Owls with 9.
Villanova improved to 11-1 on the season. Temple is now 9-3 overall, and 0-1 in Big Five play.
Villanova begins Big East league play on Sunday, January 2nd, entertaining the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a 1:oo PM game at the Pavilion. Up next for Temple is an A-10 road match with the Fordham Rams on January 5th.
Please check out our photo slide show below which includes 52 additional photos of the game: