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Villanova Basketball holds off Temple in 69-59 comeback win at the Finn

It was another back and forth Big 5 brawl.

NCAA Basketball: Temple at Villanova Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

It was back and forth at the Finn Wednesday night until Jermaine Samuels led a second half charge to give the Villanova Wildcats a 69-59 win over the Temple Owls. Samuels scored all 15 of his points in the second half, adding 7 rebounds for the game.

It was a poor shooting night for both teams, but hustle and effort plays from Samuels and Joe Cremo were the difference in the closing minutes of the second half. The win marked Villanova’s 24th consecutive Big 5 victory, their second of the season.

Eric Paschall added 10 points and 7 rebounds on the night, but struggled from the floor shooting just 3 of 15. Joe Cremo had 11 points while Phil Booth and Collin Gillespie each added 9 points a piece. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree had 8 points and 7 rebounds.

Both teams struggled to find the basket in the first half. Nova had trouble with turnovers early, committing three in the first six minutes that all led to Temple baskets. However, they only committed two turnovers over the next 14 minutes, and took advantage of Temple’s 14.3% shooting from behind the arc. Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree led the Wildcats in the first half with 6 points and 5 rebounds, but the Cats 37.5% shooting kept them from ever opening anything more than a six point lead.

News, Notes, and Quotes

  • The Wildcats were without freshman Jahvon Quinerly, who suffered an “upper extremity” injury in practice on Tuesday. Wright had been hoping to continue to extend Quinerly’s minutes as he’s worked into the rotation, so we’ll have to see how long he remains sidelined. This leaves the Wildcats with one less ball handler, a position they were already thin at to begin with.
  • Temple coach Fran Dunphy received a standing ovation from the Nova Nation during the player introductions. In addition to being an extremely accomplished coach in the Big 5, Dunphy also holds a masters degree from Villanova.
  • Shizz Alston Jr. on Jermaine Samuels, “He was huge for them. We didn’t come in focusing on him being a threat, and he went 3-3 from three and 4-4 from the line. That’s huge numbers.”
  • Shizz Alston Jr. on Villanova closing the game out, “Programs like Villanova, when they have a lead like that they step on you. I told [my teammates] it’s a learning lesson. When we’re up like that on the road we got to step on the guys neck, and that’s what we didn’t do tonight.”
  • Fran Dunphy on Jermaine Samuels, “We talked about not leaving their shooters all day, and I think for the most part we did a decent job on that other than Samuels. He wasn’t prolific before the game, but he’s a scholarship athlete who has come into a great program and you know he’s got the ability to make shots.”
  • Fran Dunphy on getting a standing ovation from the crowd, “It’s really humbling to be honest with you. I appreciate it very, very much... I’m grateful for it, and it’s a wonderful experience.”
  • Fran Dunphy on Villanova’s Big 5 winning streak, “I think this is a phenomenal basketball program and great culture that Jay has established. [The streak’s] remarkable to be honest with you.”
  • Jay Wright on comeback win, “Experiencing these tough games, getting down, having to battle back, that’s how you grow as a team. I’m really proud of these guys, I’m really happy we got to experience and get a W. But you could lose and win from these experiences too.”
  • Jay Wright on Samuels breakout game, “We were more surprised that he hadn’t been making shots because he always shoots the ball well in practice and we know he can shoot the ball. We figured it was coming. But we saw more what he’s doing defensively and understanding our game plans and our scouting reports. I said to the team, he sparked our defense in the first half, which is why we put him back in in the second half, really to get us going defensively. The shots were icing on the cake, but he’s a really good defensive player and one of our best rebounders.”

Game Rundown

Temple won the tip and was able to get on the board early with a quick basket in the paint. They then forced Eric Paschall to turn it over on an errant pass, and converted on another basket in transition. But Villanova was able to settle down on offense and work the ball around to find Collin Gillespie open in the corner for a three. After a solid defensive stop, Saddiq Bey was able to find Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree off a roll in the paint for a slam dunk and the Wildcats first lead of the game at 5-4.

Villanova had started to find its footing on defense, and after forcing Temple into another contested shot Phil Booth was able to create some space and drain a three from beyond the arc. The teams then traded baskets in the paint before both started going cold from beyond the arc. Temple finally ended the drought with a transition 2 off a turnover to cut Nova’s lead back to 2 points with just over 14 minutes remaining in the first half.

Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree was holding his own on the low block, and Saddiq Bey was able to work his way in and find his open teammate. However, Temple was able to take advantage of Nova’s continued turnover struggles, and make them play with easy transition baskets. With 12:30 remaining in the half, the teams were tied at 12.

After a few bad possesions and another timeout, Temple came at Nova with their own 34 court press. Nova was able to break it and found Cole Swider in the corner to give Nova a three point lead. After the defense forced a travel, Eric Paschall took the ball to the hole for an And-1 bucket, but was unable to convert the free throw. The Cats weren’t shooting especially well, but Temple was on an 0-4 drought and had yet to hit a three. With 9:28 remaining in the half, Nova led 17-12.

Temple was finally able to find the basket, taking a long offensive rebound in for an uncontested layup. Now it was Villanova that was going cold, having missed their last four shots. Temple continued to find buckets off the offensive glass, cutting the lead to one. But Phil Booth answered with a driving layup, and then Collin Gillespie went diving to the court on the other end to force a Temple turnover. With just under six minutes in the game, it was Wildcat ball and Nova led 19-16.

Both teams were still struggling with their shot, each around 40% for the game. But the refs started calling a few more fouls, and the teams performed much better from the free throw line. Villanova still held a three point lead, but some sloppy ball handling led to a shot clock violation and turnover with just under four minutes remaining in the half.

Out of the timeout Nova had trouble finding any penetration on offense, but continued to keep the Owls from hitting any baskets. Shizz Alston finally hit a jumper for Temple, cutting Nova’s lead to one. Then a shot-clock issue gave everyone a free timeout with 1:40 left in the half, Nova leading 21-20.

The Wildcats weren’t able to convert out of the “timeout”, but Shizz Alston started to warm up. He hit Temple’s first three of the game to give Temple a two point lead. Eric Paschall missed his three attempt on the other end, but Collin Gillespie was able to corral the offensive rebound and find Joe Cremo outside the arc to give Nova a 24-23 lead with 33.6 seconds left in the half.

On defense, the Wildcats executed a great trap on Quinton Rose, forcing a turnover. Gillespie then showed off some fancy dribbling as Temple tried to eliminate Nova’s chances at getting a clean shot by burning their fouls to give. Nova had the ball under the basket with 4 seconds remaining. Gillespie tried to drive to the basket off the inbound, but had the ball stripped and it wound up in a scrum. Nova went to the locker room with a 24-23 lead at the half.

Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree was able to get to the line on the first possession of the 2nd half, but couldn’t connect on either of his free throws. Temple answered with a three from Quinton Rose to give Nova the lead again. Cosby-Roundtree then missed a hook shot in the lane before Rose connected again on a pull up jumper. Jay Wright immediately called timeout, the Wildcats now down 24-28 with 18:38 remaining.

Nova had another missed shot out of the timeout, and Temple again was able to drive and pull up in the lane, now on a 7-0 run to start the second half. Paschall missed his second straight shot, but Nova was finally able to come up with a defensive stop. Paschall wouldn’t miss again, driving to the lane and finishing with a jam. Temple still led 26-30 with 16:31 left in the game.

Temple would go 1-2 at the line off a Cole Swider foul, then Quinton Rose picked Eric Paschall’s pocket and went coast to coast for the basket. At this point, the Temple cheering section up in the North End stands actually got a “Let’s Go Temple!” chant going as the home crowd was in stunned silence, Jay Wright calling another timeout with Temple leading 26-33.

Nova continued to shoot cold in the second half, now 1-5 from the floor. The free throw line is where the Wildcats would start to cut back into the lead, with Booth going 2-2 and Paschall adding another on the next two possessions to make it a four point game. Nova started picking it up on defense, forcing contested long twos and turnovers. Nova’s young front court started to get back into the game as well, with Saddiq Bey and Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree scoring in the paint on back-to-back possessions to tie the game at 33 with about 13 minutes remaining.

Temple would get to the line and convert both free throws to edge their lead back up to two, and then were able to contest two Nova shots in the paint. An accrobatic layup by Temple’s Nate Pierre-Louis gave Temple a two score lead, and at the under 12 timeout led the Wildcats 33-37.

Temple got back to the line on Nova’s 4th foul of the half, but again only converted 1-2. Jermaine Samuels was able to connect from the top of the arc to bring Nova back within 2, but Temple answered with a three of their own on the following play. Joe Cremo answered that with a pump-fake, step in two. But again, Temple had an answer with a pull up jumper in the lane.

Jermaine Samuels hit a second three from the same spot, and that really brought the crowd back into the game. But again Temple was able to find a basket, this time backing into the lane for two. Cremo missed a three for Nova, and Booth was called for a foul on the floor on defense. Temple still had the ball and a four point lead with just over 8 minutes to play.

Eric Paschall came up with a terrific block on a driving layup attempt, but Collin Gillespie was unable to connect from three on the other end. He made up for it with a tough defensive rebound on the next Temple shot, drawing Temple’s 6th team foul in the process. Nova was going to need to find some more offense as they still trailed 41-45 with 7:23 remaining.

Saddiq Bey was able to slam home a put back dunk on the next possession, but Temple answered with another basket in the paint. Put back’s seemed to be Nova’s best offense, as this time Eric Paschall cut the lead to two with a put back. Temple missed it’s next shot and Gillespie was fouled on his fade away attempt in the lane. Gillespie hit both free throws to tie the game at 47-47 with 5:30 left in the game.

On the next possession, Quinton Rose traveled in the corner, and the Finn erupted. Then it got even louder when Jermaine Samuels hit his third three from the top of the arc, putting Nova back on top 50-47 just under the 5 minute mark.

Samuels continued to feed off the crowd, helping to trap Temple’s guard and force a turnover that sent Eric Paschall to the line for a one and one. Paschall hit the first but missed the second, extending Nova’s lead to four. Rose couldn’t connect on a spinning jumper in the lane, and Jermaine Samuels was fouled on his put back after an offensive rebound on the other end. He connected on both to push Nova’s lead up to six with 4 minutes to play. He exited to court to MVP chants.

Nova’s offense got a little sloppy on their next possession, but Phil Booth was able to draw a foul and get to the free throw line. Booth connected on both baskets pushing the lead to eight. Temple was able to hit a three to cut the game to 55-50 with 2:45 remaining, but the clock was now on Villanova’s side.

Even with the rest of his team missing shots, Samuels was a force on the boards and got a put back layup to go in. Temple answered with a two, but then Joe Cremo got a turn around in the lane to go. Quinton Rose hit an impressive driving shot in the lane to bring it back to a five point lead for the Wildcats, but Cremo again found room to work inside and hit another basket to give Nova a 61-54 lead with 47 seconds remaining. Villanova would be able to maintain their lead for the final minute and claim their second Big 5 victory.