PHILADELPHIA, PA - Following multiple weeks of cancellations due to COVID-19, Temple basketball was finally able to play their first game of the 2020-21 season. Starting off the game on a 16-2 run, its early lead fueled their 72-60 victory over the NJIT Highlanders.
Guard Damian Dunn led the Owls in scoring with 18. More than half of those (10) came from the free throw line. Senior forward De’Vondre Perry was second in scoring with 12, tagging along 14 rebounds. Jeremiah Williams was right there with him tallying 11 points, followed by J.P. Moorman with 10.
With a first half lead of 16 for the Owls, it looked to be too much for the Highlanders to overcome in the second half. Although the team as a whole, only shot 40% from the field, it’s defense held NJIT to 34.3%, which was shown to make a huge difference.
One of the major factors for this win was paint presence. With the Owls out rebounding the Highlanders by +17 differential, NJIT simply had no answer for Perry and Dunn on the glass. Along with getting out rebounded, Temple added 5 blocks onto the stat sheet, led by Williams and Jourdain with two each. Considering NJIT did not register a single block in the game, the Owls interior defense was the reason they pulled out the victory.
Temple was able to shut down the Highlanders main scorer, Point Guard Zach Cooks, to 18 points on 6/23 shooting. The NJIT starters looked rusty out there, as this was their first game of the season due to covid troubles as well. Their second leading scorer, Dylan O’Hearn, junior guard from Westland Missouri, came off the bench with 11 on only six shots.
Although there were some thoughts before the game that he might not play, Damian Dunn’s foot didn’t seem to make a difference. Injuring it in August of 2019, fans were skeptical that the Freshman would have issues with it to start the season. Being put into the starting five, he looked healthy and comfortable out there. Leading the team in scoring and minutes played, Dunn is looking to have a huge role this upcoming season.
Coach McKie and the Owls will look to get its second victory of the season Tuesday, December 22 against the Houston Cougars at 8pm. Sitting sixth ranked in the country as of Saturday, this will be a challenging game for the Owls.