Temple Owls Basketball: Temple Survives Against NJIT

Dec 10, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Temple Owls guard Josh Brown (1) at the free throw line against DePaul Blue Demons during the second half at the American Airlines Area. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 10, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Temple Owls guard Josh Brown (1) at the free throw line against DePaul Blue Demons during the second half at the American Airlines Area. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Temple Owls welcomed NJIT to the Liacouras Center and won a nail biter 68 – 63

Looking at the two teams, this was expected to be an easy win for the Temple Owls [8-4] but in what is becoming a recurring trend for the team it was anything but. The Owls ended up winning this one but it wasn’t a pretty performance by any meaning of the term. Temple didn’t play well but at the end of the day, a win is a win.

Before the game began, the early talk was centered around senior guard Josh Brown being in street clothes during warm-ups. Brown has averaged 11 points per game for the Owls this season and has been a leader on the court. It was announced that he would miss out on the game due to ‘soreness’ and the Owls were missing their leader early in this one.

When asked about the injury head coach Fran Dunphy said, “He [Brown] was just too sore. He was sore after the Villanova game and we’re going to monitor it.” This could be a situation where Brown is eventually redshirted for the year so it should be watched closely.

The Owls struggled to get in a groove early in this game and it was clear that Brown’s presence on the court was missed. Temple was sleepwalking early and allowed NJIT [5-8] to keep it close as the Owls were plagued with turnovers and a sheer inability to score while the Highlanders stayed pesky throughout.

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The first half had both teams trading blows back and forth but neither was able to take control. Both Temple and NJIT had leads as large as six but they constantly canceled each other out with scoring runs. The first run came by the Temple Owls as they went on a seven to one scoring run to gain a six-point lead with 6:42 left in the first half. The Highlanders quickly answered with their own seven-point run to tie the game within two minutes.

That series would come to define the half for the Temple Owls as anything they did was answered by NJIT. At the end of the half, the Owls were clinging to a one-point lead that they held in spite of their play, not because of it. Both teams chucked up 30 shots but it was the Highlanders that made the most of theirs shooting 6-15 from three (Temple was 2-10 with both threes by Daniel Dingle).

"“I don’t think we underestimated this team at all.” Daniel Dingle said, “We know that they beat Michigan and that they had other upset wins but they just played well. I think each member of their team played well and stepped up in this one.”"

Eight players scored for Temple in a balanced attack but the Owls were unable to contain Chris Jenkins (9 points) and Anthony Tarke (7 points) of the Highlanders. After the half, the Owls needed to do two things, get Obi Enechionyia going (5 points on 2-5 shooting) and lock in on defending the three point line.

The second half was more of the same as the Owls were unable to gain control of the game. NJIT continued their high volume offense chucking up threes but unfortunately for Temple, most of them went in. Damon Lynn caught fire for NJIT hitting seven three-pointers en route to scoring 25 for the Highlanders.

When Temple attempted to pull away, the Highlanders did everything that they could to get back in the game but luckily for Temple, Enechionyia showed up in a big way in the second half. Obi had two huge alley-oops in order to rally the team and the crowd. When he was asked about his shooting during the game, Obi responded saying,

"“Nothing really changed but the shots started falling.” Obi was able to contribute 13 points along with eight rebounds in the game."

Each point was needed as NJIT stuck with the Owls every step of the way. The Highlanders are no stranger to upsets and they were hunting for the Owls today. The Owls attempted to shut them down by rotating defenders on Lynn but nothing could stop him from scoring. At the close, Alani Moore and Obi stepped up in a big way to nail three-pointers to give the Owls some breathing room.

Next: Temple, Villanova, and Flyers All Pull Away For Late Wins

Moore stepping up is one of the bigger stories of this one because he was inserted into the lineup to replace Brown. Temple made this one much closer than it should’ve been but it’s tough to stop a team that nails 13 three-pointers in the game. Temple was able to step up their production from behind the arc as they hit five threes in the second half after only sinking two in the first.

Close games will help prepare the Owls for conference play but too many may hurt them in the eyes of the selection committee. Next up is another home game against Yale on Thursday.