VILLANOVA, PA - Temple's second stint in the top 25 will be a short one as they are sure to be dropped from the list after the #8 Villanova Wildcats beat them 78-74 at the Pavilion on Thursday night. The Wildcats secured yet another Big 5 championship with the victory.
With the win the Wildcats improved to 11-1 while Temple fell to 9-3.
Corey Stokes and Maalik Wayns were the catalysts for the Wildcats as they scored 24 and 21 points respectively. Both players picked up the slack in Corey Fisher's absence as he spent a substantial amount of time on the bench due to foul trouble. Fisher finished the game with five points, four rebounds, two assists and four personal fans.
Mouphtaou Yarou was a force down low for Villanova. He scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds went a long way in disrupting Temple's offensive game plan around the basket.
According to this tweet from Jonathan Tannenwald of Soft Pretzel Logic, Lavoy Allen indicated that Yarou was the biggest difference between this year's game and last year's. Some Villanova fans have complained of a lack of inside game this year but tonight that much maligned aspect of their squad ended up being what put them over the top.
As well as Villanova played the Owls still had plenty of chances to win the game. Temple shot 20 of 30 from the foul line with several devastating misses down the stretch. Foul shooting continues to be a bane for this team as they shoot just under 65 percent from the charity stripe.
Ramone Moore's struggles in the second half were another contributing factor to Temple's demise. He scored 13 points in the first half but only four in the second to finish the game with 16. While that is above his season average by about two points it should be noted that he went 1 for 12 from the floor in the second half. The junior guard also committed five of Temple's 10 turnovers.
It was not all bad for Moore, however, as he snatched a eight rebounds to go along with four assists and two blocks.
Speaking of Allen, the senior forward had another one of those games that Temple supporters drool over as he led the Owls with 22 points, a game-high nine rebounds and a block. He also hit his first three-pointer of the season that brought the Owls with two points, 76-74, with only a few seconds remaining.
Juan Fernandez also played an uneven game for the Owls. He scored a season-high 20 points with 12 of them coming from beyond the arc and dished a team-high five assists. The junior point guard also made some questionable decisions on defense, leaving the Owls short handed several times throughout the game after taking gambles or trying to draw offensive fouls.
The Owls could have used Fernandez during their frantic comeback bid in the closing seconds of the game but he fouled out with 52.5 seconds left.
Fernandez kept things in perspective, though, as he told Aaron Bracy of Philahoops.com that "we knocked some shots down when we needed to and we managed to play against this defense for stretches. It's about time we learn how to do it throughout the whole game."
Temple led by one point at the half, 40-39, but the Wildcats started the second half with a 16-5 run that was capped by a Yarou layup that put Villanova up 57-47 with 12:57 remaining in the game. The Owls battled back with a 13-0 run of their own that was punctuated with a Scootie Randall three-pointer.
Fisher nailed a three to tie the game at 60 with 8:48 to go in the game. Allen responded with two made free-throws that gave the Owls their final lead of the game at 62-60. Villanova scored the next seven points to take the lead for good.
Temple will be in action this Wednesday as they will open up Atlantic 10 conference play against the Fordham Rams at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Villanova hosts the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Sunday afternoon.
Notes: Check out Philahoops.com's exclusive interview with Juan Fernandez ... The Owls shot 57.1 percent in the first half but cooled down mightily in the second frame; they finished the game shooting 40.7 percent ... 'Nova shot 44.6 percent overall from the field ... Rahlir Jefferson played 23 very quiet minutes, scoring three points to go along with four rebounds, two assists and two fouls; the sophomore forward looked very hesitant with the ball in his hands ... Four of Temple's starters played 35 minutes or more ... Micheal Eric once again found himself mired in foul trouble as he had four rebounds and a steal in just 12 minutes of playing time