Christy Selagy (@ChristySelagy)
Despite the rash of cancellations and postponements plaguing college basketball amidst the Omicron variant and the most recent COVID-19 surge, the City 6 teams still saw plenty of action this weekend.
Here's a roundup of Saturday's results, click here for Sunday's recap:
Mia Davis (above) put together another dominant performance for the Owls. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
WBB: Temple 75, Cincinnati 68
Conference play started out on the right foot for the Owls (6-6, 1-0 AAC), as they led for all but the opening 14 seconds, when the game was still scoreless. Tonya Cardoza’s team was particularly dominant in the first half, leading by as many as 15 at one point.
The Bearcats (7-7, 0-2 AAC) put together some solid runs throughout the game to whittle their double-digit deficit for single digits, but never came closer than 46-43 in the third quarter. But Temple forward Alexa Williamson quashed any hope Cincinnati had of pulling ahead when she scored seven consecutive points in response.
Temple’s frontcourt was integral to the win, with forwards Mia Davis and Williamson each scoring 20-plus points. Davis, the AAC Preseason Player of the Year, led all scorers with 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting and added seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals for good measure. Williamson was close behind with 20 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and two steals in 21 minutes of action.
Saying the Owls dominated in the paint may be an understatement: They didn’t allow the Bearcats to put up double digits in the paint in any of the quarters, and outscored their opponents 46-24.
A pair of young guards in the starting lineup were another bright spot for Temple. Jasha Clinton, 2021 Big 5 Rookie of the Year, rounded out the Owls’ trio of double-digit scorers with 12 points, and Aniya Gourdine flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 10 rebounds, eight points and seven assists.
MBB: Temple 78, ECU 75
It was a clean sweep for Temple basketball Saturday, though, in a game that featured six lead changes and five knotted scores, the men didn’t have as much breathing room as their counterparts.
With head coach Aaron McKie out for the second straight game due to COVID protocols, associate head coach Monte Ross took charge for the Owls.
Redshirt freshman Damian Dunn was undoubtedly the star of the game, scoring a career-high 33 points and hitting his second consecutive game-winning three. After Temple (9-6, 2-2 AAC) scored the first seven points of the game, ECU (10-4, 1-1 AAC) went on a 13-1 run.
“That’s the game of basketball,” Ross said. “There’s always going to be ebb and flow. There’s always going to be runs that each team makes and you just have to be able to withstand the runs that the other team makes.”
The tide shifted in Temple’s favor in the second half and they retook the lead about seven-and-a-half minutes in on a pair of free throws from Dunn. ECU tied the game and took the lead a few more times, including on a three-point play from Tremo Robinson-White with 15 seconds left.
And that’s where Dunn came in. Standing at the top of the key, Dunn dribbled to his right and fired off the game-winning shot with 1.5 seconds remaining.
“I told the coaches, ‘Let me get the ball. I want the ball in my hands,’” Dunn said. “I got the look I wanted and it fell… I wanted it to go up with no time left on the clock so there couldn’t be any hail marys or anything towards their favor and luck.”
Ross had actually been planning to run a different play, but when Dunn said he wanted the ball, sure, why not? Ross loved Dunn’s confidence. And it turned out to be the right call.
Nick Jourdain also set a new career high with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
“I think Nick is getting better and better,” Ross said. “These guys are growing up right before our eyes, which is really, really a pleasure to see. Nick is somebody we want to be aggressive. We’ve been challenging him to be aggressive and I think the last couple of games, he’s been really, really aggressive for us.”
MBB: Villanova 79, DePaul 64
Jay Wright’s squad used a huge second half to win their fourth consecutive conference win. The first half was a bit rough, though. DePaul’s Javon Freeman-Liberty scored 22 of his 34 points in the first half. If the WIldcats took the lead, Freeman-Liberty played a role in returning the advantage to the home team. Add to that redshirt senior Caleb Daniels and junior Justin Moore both having first-half foul trouble, and ‘Nova (11-4, 4-1 Big East) found itself down 37-32 after the first 20 minutes.
But that all changed after halftime. Well, not ‘changed’ in the sense that Wright shifted his gameplan.
“We didn't really change anything at halftime,” Wright said. “It was more a matter of getting Justin and Caleb back out there.”
The ‘Cats outscored DePaul 47-27 in the final 20 minutes, thanks in part to 5-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. A 15-2 run to start the second half quickly gave ‘Nova the lead—once Collin Gillespie hit the 3-pointer that gave his team the lead about two-and-a-half minutes in, the ‘Cats never looked back. Hitting 16-of-17 free throws in the second half certainly helped, too.
It wasn’t just ‘Nova’s offense, though. Their defense stifled DePaul to 6-of-24 and 1-of-9 from beyond the arc in the second half. Six of the Blue Demon’s seven turnovers came in the final 20 minutes.
Gillespie and Moore both scored 20-plus points, 28 and 12, respectively. In his first game back from COVID protocols, Daniels added 11 points.
“I was proud of our guys. Playing on the road, we had a rough first half,” Wright said. “They're a good team and that's a good road win for us.”
Clifton Moore (above) recorded his first double-double of the season on Saturday. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
MBB: VCU 85, La Salle 66
Click here to read Joseph Santoliquito's story
It was bound to be a tough day for the Explorers (5-7, 0-2 A-10), who were without leading scorer Josh Nickleberry (11.9 ppg) and point guard Jhamir Brickus (9.5 ppg).
The opening play was promising, with VCU (9-4, 2-0 A-10) turning over the ball on the opening tap and La Salle sophomore Anwar Gill slamming in the first points of the game. But the Rams took control from there and handed La Salle its second Atlantic 10 loss in as many games.
”I’m not giving up,” said Explorers’ head coach Ashley Howard. “I see our guys coming back every single day to get better. Our practices have been great. They’ve been intense, they’ve been purposeful. These are guys the university should be proud of.”
Redshirt senior Clifton Moore continued his hot streak, posting his first double-double of the season after leading all scorers with 21 points and grabbing 12 boards. Rookie Khalil Brantley was the only other Explorer to score double digits, putting up 18 off the bench.
MBB: Columbia 73, Penn 69
Click here for Sam Istvan's story
The Quakers’ two-game Ivy League win streak came to an end at the Palestra on Saturday evening. Penn (5-11, 2-1 Ivy League) never led in the game, though it did manage to tie the score four times, three in the second half.
If you want to traffic in clichés, ‘free throws win games’ is probably the way to go here. The teams’ free throw percentages were similar, 63 percent for the Lions and 63.6 percent for the Quakers. But that’s 17-of-27 and 7-of-11, respectively. That makes a pretty big difference.
Penn fought back when Columbia ran out to a double-digit lead early in the first half, eventually whittling the deficit to one with 6:15 remaining.Still, the Quakers took a five-point deficit into halftime, and it didn’t help that leading scorer Jordan Dingle (19.7 ppg) was held scoreless in the half.
Dingle did score in the second half, though he finished with nine, which broke his 10-game streak of scoring double digits. And like how Dingle couldn’t quite get over the double digit points hump, Penn couldn’t quite get past Columbia’s lead, despite outscoring the visitors 33-32 in the second half.
While the result wasn’t what head coach Steve Donahue and his team wanted, the potential youth movement should give the Quakers some optimism. Sophomore Max Martz and rookie George Smith each scored a team-high 14 points. That’s the third time in four games that Smith has registered double digit points. Sophomore Clark Slajchert chipped in 11 points, his sixth double-digit game this season.