Jake Forrester floated. He had just checked into the game minutes into the first half and within seconds, he received a pass in transition and leaped through contact toward the rim for an electrifying dunk. While the Indiana transfer yelled toward the student section, guard Nate Pierre-Louis jogged backward to get set for defense and laughed in the direction of St. Joseph’s Ryan Daly, as if to say, “This is going to be a long night for you.”
If that was the intention, Pierre-Louis was right. Temple dominated St. Joseph’s, 108-61, Tuesday at the Liacouras Center. The Owls scored 100 points in a game for the first time in seven seasons.
Forrester added two more dunks in the first half, part of a team-high 17 points from 8-of-8 shooting, and Pierre-Louis either yelled in Forrester’s face or pushed him in the chest to hype him up each time. On the other end of the floor, Pierre-Louis took on Daly, fresh off a 32-point performance at Villanova, and held him to two points.
Following Temple’s worst three-point shooting performance in six seasons, five Owls connected from beyond the arc as they shot 8-of-15 (53%) from three and 41-of-66 (62%) from the field. After a mistake-riddled loss to Missouri on Saturday, Temple looked like a confident, dynamic bunch that could score at will, with pestering defense turning into flurries of highlight-reel dunks and open looks.
Daly shot 1-of-8 from the floor as Pierre-Louis, sporting athletic goggles for the first time, stayed locked on him and picked up 12 points himself. Daly checked out of the game with 11 minutes to play and did not take the floor again. Myles Douglas carried the load for the Hawks with 14 points while Anthony Longpre added 12.
Keys to the game
Temple scored more than 100 points in a game for the first time since Dec. 21, 2013, against LIU Brooklyn. It’s the largest margin of victory for the Owls since a 98-41 win over Muhlenberg on Dec. 9, 1961, and the 20th 100-point game in Temple history. It was also the largest margin of victory for either team in the Temple-St. Joseph’s series.
While Temple shot the ball at a significantly better rate than Saturday’s loss to Missouri, the Owls’ offense still worked in conjunction with its defensive pressure. Temple scored 20 points off turnovers, 26 on fast breaks and 64 in the paint. Thirteen Owls scored as, once again, Aaron McKie utilized a deep bench.
Temple outrebounded St. Joseph’s 51-25 and grabbed nine offensive boards for 10 second-chance points. McKie has emphasized the need for Temple to grab rebounds without having the tallest lineup. With a guard-heavy group at times, Temple still used its physicality on the boards.
“I don’t know any team that isn’t putting their best defender on Ryan Daly," St. Joe’s coach Billy Lange said. “I just think it was their overwhelming athleticism to get to his drive and still get out and contest shots that was impressive.”
“That’s what Nate does," McKie said of Pierre-Louis. “He doesn’t get enough credit for it and he looks forward to that. But he really got us going.”
Temple responded in a big way to its worst game of the season. While its shooting dramatically improved, it wasn’t because of any drastic changes. The Owls played their same offensive style and let defense create open looks. The difference was this time, they were able to knock down those looks and dominate in the paint. Nate Pierre-Louis said the loss Saturday hurt and he immediately began watching film of Daly to be ready for this matchup.
Forrester adds needed physicality for Temple in the paint. Although center Justyn Hamilton has incredible length and has put on weight this offseason, he has not been able to consistently compete against big defenders in the post. When Forrester checked in, Hamilton already had a turnover. Within minutes, Forrester had three dunks and drew a foul on one of them. His strength and athleticism is important for Temple.