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Temple's defense earns win over Tulane

01/31/2015, 1:30am EST
By Aron Minkoff

Aron Minkoff (@AronMinkoff)

Defense wins championships. If that is the case, then the Temple Owls look poised to make a deep run into the NCAA tournament.

Unfortunately for the Owls there has to be some sort of efficient offense attached to a stellar defense, that could cause them quite a bit of trouble as the season continues to unfold. And not to take anything away from Temple, their defense was incredible, but for as incredible as their defense was, the offensive execution was just as poor.

Temple forced 12 turnovers, nine of which came in the first half and recorded nine blocks, while the offense struggled to keep up all afternoon. The Owls shot 37.9 percent from the field including an abysmal 7-26 from three-point range en route to a 55-37 win over the Tulane Green Wave.

“I would like to think we are getting better defensively, thought we were communicating well early on,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “I do think as we go through the film, you’ll see that they had some open looks and didn’t knock it down. It wasn’t all us by any stretch, but I think we are getting better defensively.”

The game marked the first time since the 1993-94 season that Temple has held two opponents to under 40 points. In addition to Tulane, Temple held American to 37 as well in the season opener.

Also, Tulane surpassed UMass’ claim to the lowest amount of points scored in a half ever at the Liacouras Center. The Owls held the Minutemen to nine points in the first half of a game on February 1, 2006, almost nine years ago to the day.

Temple’s offense looked to be firing on all cylinders as it raced out to a 12-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game which included back-to-back three-point baskets from junior Quenton DeCosey.

“I think it got us off to a great start. Me knocking down shots got contagious, everyone starting making shots,” DeCosey said. “Our defesne in the first half was incredible. Everyone did a good job with really locking down on defense, we got three-four stops in a row.”

From that point though Temple struggled, scoring just 11 points in the final 14 minutes of the game to take a 28-8 lead to the half.

DeCosey led all scorers with 17 points on 6-13 shooting and seven rebounds. In addition to DeCosey, freshman Obi Enechionyia posted another impressive stat line from his reserve role. The first man off the bench for Temple recorded 12 points on 4-6 shooting which included a perfect 2-2 from three-point range. The 6-foot-8, Springfield, Va. native also recorded three blocks as he was active on defense all afternoon.

“Defensively I think that’s big for energy,” Enechionyia said. “I know when someone else makes a big defensive play I get more energized, I think the whole team is like that. I am just trying to make big defensive plays.”

The inconsistent Jesse Morgan had yet another horrid shooting performance. The senior UMass transfer scored just three points on a dismal 1-9 shooting, which included 1-8 from three-point range.

Tulane (13-9, 4-6) was led by junior guard Louis Dabney, who recorded 10 points and Kajon Mack, who scored seven points. The rest of the Green Wave struggled and none of them recorded more than five points.

Temple’s defense was trifling the Green Wave as they struggled to get anything going, shooting just 25.9 percent.

This game served as a refreshing sight for Owls fans, who are hoping to see their team play meaning games in March. Temple has put together a nice stretch of wins as it has won three in a row after dropping three straight to the top three teams in the American, Tulsa, SMU and Cincinnati.

“We need to keep winning, we need to win every game,” Dunphy said. “And there is no other thought that is going on in our mind. We have a tough week coming up, we have two away games, we need to play really good basketball from here-on in. We had those two games at home that we had a pretty good opportunity to win and we chose not to. That would’ve helped us a little bit, but there is nothing we can do about that now.”

Temple (15-7, 6-3) will travel to take on South Florida, the same Bulls team that it beat 73-48 at home a little over a week ago. The game will tip-off at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 4.

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