Owls grab their first Conference Victory against the UCF Knights
(PHILADELPHIA, PA) Led by freshman Damian Dunn with 20 points on the night, the Owls defeated the 3-4 UCF Knights 62-55 in the Liacouras Center.
Along with Damian Dunn’s fantastic scoring day, the team was fueled on the other end of the court. With J.P. Moorman ll being aggressive on the glass with 13 defensive rebounds, along with holding UCF to just 32.8% from the field, high energy defense led to easy scores on the other end.
For the first time this season, the Owls held their opponent to under 70 points. With having great perimeter defense from point guard Jeremiah Williams, he helped hold the Knights leading scorer on the season, Brandon Mahan to just four points on 11% shooting. Having three steals in the game for Williams, and adding 12 points on 3-5 shooting on the day, his contributions came up big down the stretch for the Owls.
In recent games versus SMU, Temple's main issues on the court were continuing momentum, and as they would cut big leads down to single digits, they couldn’t keep up their intensity. Tied after the first half today, they held the Knights to no points in the first six minutes of the second half. This was a run we haven’t seen from this young group, and helped them secure their first conference victory.
With two minutes left in the game, the Owls had a ten point lead and the game looked to be close to over. Then, UCF scored seven unanswered and cut the lead to just three with 20 seconds left in the game. In the last 20 seconds, Temple didn’t allow UCF to score a single time after bringing the game within one possession. Coach McKie talked after the game about how these young freshman guards have not been in a situation like this at the college level, and said he was proud of how they stayed in control down the stretch.
Brendan Berry, the team's leading shooter so far this season, was held to only six shots on two made threes from the field. Defensively, UCF had a good game plan to contain him beyond three, as he didn’t shoot a single shot in the second half. Finishing the game with three assists, Berry was used as more of a playmaker and catalyst rather than an offensive threat. His stats might not show it, but his ability to draw defenders to the outside allowed for others including Dunn and Perry to get good looks inside.
Another player who had a big impact on the game was forward Jake Forrester. Only recording six points and five rebounds on the stat sheet, he anchored the Owls paint defense and played extremely aggressive offensively. He knew he had an advantage against the smaller UCF lineup down the stretch, and played strong in the post in the second half. The Owls should look to use him more often, even with having foul trouble to start the season.
When Coach McKie was asked about Jakes play, he stated, “With Jake, coming into this game I thought that he was our advantage. We went to him late and he got us a critical basket. I thought his energy and activity around the basket on the offensive end was pretty good today.”
Temple is still looking to improve on their 1-3 record in conference this weekend. With their next opponent ECU having some COVID issues as of late, there will most likely be a change of schedule yet again for the Owls. No matter who they face, they will look to continue this win streak and improve on their 2-3 record on the year.