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postGame: Villanova 78, Temple 74

Owls vs Wildcats coverage

Owls vs Wildcats recap

Owls vs Wildcats boxscore

Game ended at 9:19 PM eastern time.  Villanova Wildcats defeat Temple Owls 78-74.  Some notes on the game are below.

-In front of a packed house at the Pavilion, the Temple Owls jumped out to a 6-2 lead, but Villanova quickly responded with a 9-0 run by causing some Owl turnovers with the 1-2-2 press.

-Not surprisingly, Temple countered with some drives and jumpers by junior guard Ramone Moore.  Halfway through the opening stanza, the game was knotted at 14 all.  

-After some more back and forth action, the visitors really clamped down on 'd',' and Villanova's nemesis, Juan Fernandez, started to find his stroke from the outside.  With under five minutes remaining, the Owls had built a 32-24 lead.

-The Cats found their way to the line towards the end of the first half, which got them right back into the game heading into intermission.  Through 20 minutes, Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez, and Corey Stokes all had double figures.

-Halftime score: Temple 40 Villanova 39

More on the game after the jump...

-Maalik Wayns seized momentum for Nova out of the locker room with some great hustle plays and short floaters in the lane.  Feeding off of Wayns' energy was the sharpshooter Stokes and big man Mouphtaou Yarou, who both knocked down some tough shots to put the home squad up 10 with twelve minutes remaining.  

-Those who thought the Cats would just pull away with this one shouldve known better, as Big 5 games, especially between these 2 rivals, are always intense affairs until the final whistle blows.  Over a five minute span, the Owls shot their way right back into the game, with the lethal Fernandez hitting threes from everywhere to spur a 13 point run and put Temple on top 60-57.  

-With the crowd getting restless, the Wildcats responded with some timely buckets from the duo of Wayns and Stokes.  The seesaw battle was back in Villanova's favor, as they held a slim 4 point lead heading into the last TV timeout.  

-With the game on the line, it was the Villanova defense that buckled down and forced Temple into some very difficult attempts late.  Although Maurice Sutton played sparingly in the first half, he really made an impact when it mattered by changing numerous Owl shots in the lane and grabbing some key rebounds. To ice it, Villanova made their shots from the charity stripe when they had to, and the Cats notched their most impressive win of the season.  With the win, they also wrapped up the Big 5 championship by sweeping their Philly rivals. 

-In terms of stats, Corey Stokes was the obvious leader with 24 points, which included 5 treys.  Maalik Wayns shot a poor 6-17 from the field, but he tallied 21 points, aided by his 9-9 from the line, and also dished out a game-high 8 assists.  Mouphtaou Yarou had a nice game as well with 14 points on 6-10 shooting.  For the Owls, Lavoy Allen led the way with 22 points and 8 boards, while Juan Fernandez scored 20 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and assisted 5 times. 

-General observations

  1. I was very impressed with Temple's defense in the first half.  It seemed like they always had a hand in the face of a Wildcat shooter.  On a similar note, the Villanova defense really stood out in the last 20 minutes. By intermission, Temple was shooting 57%, but they finished the game overall with a paltry 39% from the field.
  2. It's pretty clear that Corey Stokes can carry this offense on his back if necessary.  He's really the only guy I want to shoot it regardless of the situation, because I always think it's going in. 
  3. Antonio Pena is so frustrating to watch with his inconsistent play.  He had 8 rebounds tonight, but he committed some dumb fouls and didn't box out well on a couple of Temple free throws, which gave them additional possessions.
  4. Don't underestimate this victory.  Temple is going to win their fair share of games and barring any major injuries, will definitely be an NCAA tourney team.  In one of their few tough tests, the Wildcats really showed some poise and grit to earn a big win, which will look good come March. 

Note: For more postgame insight, head over to www.philahoops.com, where Andrew Bracy has extensive coverage of tonight's game.