The Temple men's basketball team won its first game in the American Athletic Conference, coming from…
Too Hot To Handle
It seems that streak — along with any chances to win the Big 5 title — ended on Saturday afternoon in a 90-74 loss to Villanova at a sold-out Liacouras Center.
The ninth-ranked Wildcats improved to 19-2 and finished a sweep of Big 5 opposition, while the Owls' tough season continued as they dropped to 6-14, 2-2.
Temple was within five at the half, thanks to a 12-0 run that tied the game at 25 with 2:42 to play, but the Wildcats easily pulled away after the break.
James Bell hit five three-pointers and scored 19 points for the balanced Wildcats, who put five players in double figures. Villanova had 20 assists on 31 made field goals and only turned it over nine times, while shooting 52.5 percent from the field — including 57.1 percent in the second half.
"They made shots, they made a lot of shots and they started rolling," said Temple's junior center Anthony Lee.
The Owls turned the ball over just five times and totaled seven steals leading to a 16-0 advantage in fast-break points. They also grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, including six from freshman Mark Williams in just 15 minutes.
But it wasn't enough to stay close to the Wildcats.
"They defended well, we weren't very good offensively and a lot of that is their defense was so good," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "They had a couple 3s that were guarded and Bell is such a catalyst for them. What is impressive about their team is they all buy in, all know their roles at each end of floor.
"That sense of who you are is what puts them in another category. It speaks to the quality of their basketball program and how good they are and they buy into their roles. They have mental toughness, a checking your ego at the door kind of toughness."
Will Cummings scored a game-high 24 points for Temple despite playing only 28 minutes because of a cut lip, while Quenton DeCosey contributed 18. Anthony Lee finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds but was dogged by foul trouble and fouled out with more than six minutes left in the game, having played just 22 minutes.
The highlight of the day for Temple was the unvieling of statues in the Liacouras Center honoring former coaches Harry Litwack and John Chaney.
"They were two very important figures in Philadelphia college basketball, two Hall of Fame coaches and Hall of Fame people," said Dunphy. "Harry Litwack helped me when I went to the Army in 1970. John Chaney was a great friend and great mentor and has done so much to help so many people."
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