Temple had a feeling for stealing and velvet strokes in a 74-65 win Saturday against DePaul at AmerianAirlines Arena.
Georgetown edged La Salle 93-78 in the second game of the Hoophall Miami Invitational double-header, presented by the Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame.
The Owls (7-3) ignited for a 13-0 run after surrendering the game’s first point. Obi Enechionyia, the No. 3 scorer in the American Athletic Conference, and Shizz Alston Jr. each had 15 points and seven rebounds in the win. Temple led by as many as 25 points in the contest.
“The game got tighter,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. “Our nerves got a little tested.”
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The Blue Demons (5-3) failed to tally an assist in the first half and began the game 0-for-9 from 3-point range. Temple led 40-23 at halftime behind the dominating Enechionyia, who was locked in from long range. The junior forward hit 4-of-6 of his 3-point attempts.
But the Big East foe Blue Demons didn’t give up in the second half, chipping the monstrous lead down to five points with less than a minute to play.
“Early on they made shots and it rolled right into their confidence,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “They played connected defensively and it was another game we got off to a really, really slow start and dug ourselves too deep of a hole.
The Blue Demons used a 14-0 run over the final five minutes to cut the lead to five points.
“That team just went on a run,” said Temple’s Josh Brown, who had 11 points and five assists. “They’ve got some pretty good scorers. We got the win, so we stopped the run for the most part, but I think we just lost a little bit of focus and decided to turn over the ball so we just need to keep our focus late in games.”
“Every possession is a concern for us. We have to focus every possession."
Eli Cain scored a game-high 17 points for the Blue Demons.
Temple battles No. 1 Villanova at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Pavilion.
The Hoyas (6-4) were the second Big East squad to play Saturday, but the only to leave with a victory.
L.J. Peak’s shoulders shook defenders as he soared to the rim, polishing the glass backboard with the basketball and landing on the Miami Heat’s home hardwood with two tough points for the Hoyas in the first half.
Peak’s 15 points in the opening act paced his squad to a 47-41 advantage, carrying momentum into the second stanza. Explorers defenders couldn’t contain the more athletic Hoyas guards throughout the contest.
“They are similar to us in that, they are much better than their record,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. “They are a fantastic offensive team. The stats show that, the film shows that, and the players show that. You have multiple people that are difficult to guard. They are an unselfish team. Coming in, I knew we had to be focused, because if you make a mistake or a hiccup, if there is a bad mismatch, they do a great job of taking advantage of it. We just have to be poised.”
“As you prepare for the game you say, 'you know what they have to guard us.' We have to make them work on their defensive end. So they aren’t just having fun on offense.“
The Explorers (4-4) held a lead for a mere 18 seconds to start the game, before Hoyas shooters swished 66 percent of their first half 3-point attempts to take control. The Explorers rank last in the Atlantic 10 in 3-point defense.
La Salle also allows the most points per game in the Atlantic 10, yet leads the conference in field goal and 3-point percentage.
Rodney Pryor, who entered the contest tied as the leading points scorer in the Big East, scored 19 points. Peak had a game-high 24 points and Jessie Govan had 18 points for the Hoyas. Jagan Mosely added 14 points in the win.
“Our kids played really hard,” Explorers coach John Giannini said. “I think Georgetown is a very talented team. I know they had some tough losses to really talented teams but they are going to have a really good season.”
B.J. Johnson scored 19 points and Jordan Price had 23 points for the Explorers.
“We had a really good week of practice, working on our stuff, getting better at us,” Govan said. “The way our schedule has been, we have to play every two or three days, so we have to prepare for the next opponent after every game. Now we had a few days to actually work on us and work on our offense and stuff that we like to do. We got better at that and I think that showed up today.”
Thompson and the Hoyas battle Syracuse at noon next Saturday at the Carrier Dome.