Six games into the season, Temple's young basketball team is still feeling its way and learning to work together. A 79-70 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday was a chance to learn while also earning a W that evened the Owls' record at 3-3.
The lesson in this one was to put an opponent away when given the chance. Temple led by as many as 13 points in the first half but saw its edge whittled down to 36-34 at intermission.
The Owls then led by as many as 23 points in the second half, and while the outcome was never in doubt after that, FDU fought until the end, closing with a 9-2 run.
The Owls' biggest challenge was stopping 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Earl Potts Jr., who scored 29 points and sank 6 of 8 shots from beyond the arc.
"That was disappointing," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said about his team's failure to put away the Knights. "We had a couple of really good stretches of the game and we have to feed off that rather than allowing somebody like Potts to step up and get free a number of times."
The Owls will have to play more consistently Saturday at Wisconsin against a Badgers team that is 5-3 after winning, 66-58, in overtime Wednesday at previously unbeaten Syracuse.
Temple senior guard Quenton DeCosey continued his consistent offensive play with 22 points and eight rebounds, while senior forward Jaylen Bond had 18 points and four rebounds. They were the only double-figure scorers for the Owls.
DeCosey has been a consistent offensive player and is averaging 15.5 points. One reason he is difficult to defend is that the 6-5 DeCosey is adept at creating his own shot. And this year he has made more than his fair share, shooting 50 percent from the field.
"I am trying to come out to be more aggressive and let the game come to me, so I am pretty pleased," DeCosey said.
Junior point guard Josh Brown, had seven assists and four blocks, which were both career highs. He is averaging 4.5 assists and just one turnover per game.
"I think Josh is giving you pretty solid play," Dunphy said. "His assist-to-turnover ratio is terrific at this point."
Mike Holloway, a 6-7 freshman from South Jersey's Schalick High, had seven points and four rebounds for FDU (2-6).
Temple was able to take advantage of the Knights' undersized frontcourt, where Holloway was the tallest starter. "We had to pound it inside," Bond said.
Bond realizes that Temple has to put teams away when presented with the opportunity.
"We had some mental lapses at both ends of the court," he said. "We can't have that if we want to be a good team coming up."