Jeremiah Williams leads the Owls to a big win over Elon
(PHILADELPHIA, PA) After three straight losses, Temple’s 49 point second half led them to a 75-57 win against Elon Phoenix to finish the Charleston Classic.
In a must win momentum game, Coach McKie cut the rotation to just eight players, playing his top scorers upwards of 30 minutes. With Elon only having only two forwards in their rotation, there was no reason to overplay bigs like Jake Forrester and Nick Jourdain who didn’t get more than 20 minutes.
Even with Khalif Battle bouncing back off his bad performance against Boise State with 28 points and eight rebounds in the win, Jeremiah Williams was the player of the game for the Owls. He finished with a career high 22 points, to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists while also playing elite level defense. Before this outing, Jeremiah was shooting just 9% from the line (1-11) which was his biggest weakness heading into today.
Jeremiah Williams (25) driving on Hunter Woods (25)
Surprising everyone, Williams converted 13 of 14 attempts from the line, showing a lot more intensity driving into the paint and drawing contact on smaller defenders.
Even with lighting up the stat sheet while having a 28% usage rate, Williams ended the game with zero turnovers for the first time this season. His eight assists and eight rebounds are also both season highs, as the Owls are hoping this big performance translates to conference play.
Outside of Battle and Williams' 20+ point performances, Temple didn’t shoot the ball well but completely out-hustled the Phoenix. Led by Sage Tolbert III with eight rebounds, the Owls defeated Elon on the boards 45-29. 12 of them were offensive rebounds.
Coming off the bench, freshman Jahlil White had the best game of his career, totaling a fantastic all around game with four points, five rebounds and three steals. Against a guard heavy team in Elon, White showed how disruptive he can be on the defensive side of the ball.
Sage Tolbert III was also playing great hustle ball, as he had eight rebounds and two steals for the Owls. Accumulating 12 steals as a team, the Owls were able to get lots of transition shots which helped the momentum in the second half.
As great of a finish it was for Temple, the game didn’t start off as planned. Other than going up 5-2 three minutes into the game, they did not have the lead over Elon until after halftime. The Owls were held to 26 points in the first, which is a common theme with this young core.
Looking at the positives, Temple had their best second half of the season. Over a ten minute stretch (12:40 - 2:06) , the Owls went on a ridiculous 13-2 run, where Elon couldn’t get anything to fall. Coach McKie always talks about how much this team prioritizes defense, and this was a perfect example of it.
As for Elon, junior Hunter McIntosh led them in scoring with 16. He was the only player to shoot above 50% from three, as the team overall shot just 10-30.
Hunter McIntosh (0) bringing the ball up the court
The biggest aspect of this win was Temple getting to the free throw line. Elon got to the line seven times and converted on four, which was nowhere close to the Owls 29 attempts. Making 24 of them was a huge confidence booster as three games ago they lost to USC off of missed free throws.
Tai Strickland in 27 minutes had a good game, scoring seven points and five rebounds off the bench. Getting more playing time than Damian Dunn, Strickland continues to prove himself as a starter-caliber player for the Owls, and is a key part of their bench unit.
Jake Forrester went back to his old ways against Elon, taking himself out of the game by getting in foul trouble. With 17 minutes left in the game, he picked up his fourth foul and was forced to sit the rest of the game. Only scoring two points, he wasn’t needed to win the game yet with Nick Jourdian also having four fouls in just 13 minutes, Forrester will be needed to be the reliable big man for Coach McKie.
Led by Khalif Battle, Temple finished up their South Carolina stretch going 1-2, and continue their season on 11/27 at home against the Delaware Blue Hens.