On "Turn Back The Clock Night" at Temple last night, it took the Owls only a few minutes to alert the sellout crowd of 3,900 at McGonigle Hall that it would be an evening free of angst.
Playing at McGonigle Hall for the first time in 12 years, and playing its first game since moving into the national rankings for the first time since 2001, No. 18 Temple cruised past Bowling Green, 63-39, to raise its record to 10-2.
With students on mid-term break, the building that opened during the end of the Harry Litwack era in 1969 was packed as spectators took advantage of tickets that sold for $9 and watched the Owls perform in throwback uniforms. Also, the concession stands reflected prices closer to a bygone.
"I hope the fans liked it," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said after Temple raised its record to 10-2. "I hope it was a real good atmosphere for somebody. I think sometimes as a coach you get caught up in the game and you're not appreciating all the things that happened in this building. There's a lot of history and tradition in this building and it's nice to celebrate that."
Ramone Moore celebrated with the basketball in his hands. Moore, who was just learning to dribble when Temple moved out of McGonigle to the Liacouras Center in 1997, came off the bench to score 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He also had four assists.
Senior Ryan Brooks led Temple with 19 points.
Moore, from Southern High, shook the Owls out of some early-game lethargy by scoring nine consecutive points. It was quite a reversal for the 6-4 Moore, who had scored only two points in the previous four games on 1-for-9 shooting. He went into the game 0-for-14 for the season on three-point shots, yet drained his first attempt from behind the arc.
"He was great," Brooks said of his teammate. "He provided us with a tremendous spark at a time when we needed it."
Temple has built its early-season success around a strangling man-to-man defense, and the Owls gave Bowling Green a strong dose of it to build a comfortable 32-13 lead at halftime. The Falcons went 8:44 without scoring. They didn't get a field goal during the final 4:37 before the break. They shot 27.8 percent for the game.
"I thought it (the defense) was good throughout," Dunphy said. "I think we're a solid defensive team, led by Lavoy (Allen), who is never out of position, and Ryan Brooks, who is as solid an on-the-ball defender as I've seen. And everybody else did their job."
By missing 20 of its first 24 shots, Bowling Green (5-5) learned quickly why the Owls' defense ranks third in the nation in scoring, holding opponents to 55.1 points a game.
Soon as Moore hopped off the bench with 7:43 remaining in the half, he scored nine consecutive points to leave Bowling Green gasping.
"Tonight it was Ramone Moore's night and I'm very, very happy for him," Dunphy said.
Aside from ranking among the top three nationally in scoring defense, the Owls went into the game ranked fourth in three-point shooting defense (23.9 percent). Their previous game was against Seton Hall, which was averaging 95 points a game. Temple won, 71-65.
Last night's was Temple's first regular-season game at McGonigle Hall since Feb. 24, 1997, a 69-53 win over Fordham. The Owls opened McGonigle with a 60-59 upset win over St. John's in 1969. In 28 seasons at McGonigle Hall, Temple went 177-29.
Several former Temple players were honored during halftime, including Nate Blackwell, who was the first Owl recruited by former coach John Chaney. Among others honored were: Howard Evans, Jay Norman, Tim Perry, Drew Nolan, Mike Vreeswyk and John Baum, Temple's radio color analyst and star of the 1969 NIT championship team.