Owls start, finish strong to take down George Washington
Last Sunday Temple was as deflated a group as one could envision after the Owls found out they were the 69th team in a 68-team NCAA field.
Fast-forward after two NIT wins, including a 90-77 triumph Sunday over George Washington at the Liacouras Center, and the mind-set is completely different.
While Temple may never get over the NCAA snub, the Owls have put things behind them and have earned a final home game in Wednesday's NIT quarterfinal.
Temple (25-10) will host the winner of Monday's game between Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech on Wednesday at a time to be determined. The winner on Wednesday will move on to the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
"We are playing with an edge now and I think we have something to prove and I think that is what is what is driving us now," said point guard Will Cummings, who had a team-high 21 points.
This was a day when the Temple transfers shined.
Jesse Morgan scored a season-high 20 points and fellow guard Devin Coleman added 13 as Temple enjoyed its highest-scoring game of the season.
Morgan is a senior transfer from the University of Massachusetts and Coleman is a junior transfer from Clemson. Both became eligible after 10 games this season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
"We just want to protect home court and make a statement," Morgan said.
Morgan scored 15 points in the first half for the Owls, who opened the game on a 9-0 run. Once Coleman was hot in the second half, it cut into Morgan's time.
"The microwave here sparked it up," Morgan said, referring to Coleman. "Coach did a good job of getting guys in and out, and the guys who finished up closed the game well."
One of those guys was Coleman, who played 16 minutes, a total he has exceeded only twice this season.
"There was open floor space, a lot of spots on the floor to get shots and I knocked some down when I got a chance," Coleman said.
Temple junior forward Jaylen Bond, a transfer from Texas, had eight points and 15 rebounds. Bond had been bothered recently by sore ankles but had much more spring in his legs.
"Bond manhandled us," said George Washington coach Mike Lonergan said.
George Washington (22-13) was led by reserve Kethan Savage's 25 points.