Temple Starts off the Season with a Dominating Win over Maryland-Eastern
(PHILADELPHIA, PA) With only scoring 26 points in the first half, Temple looked all over the place offensively and couldn't find their rhythm. With 4:08 left in the first, Temple had a 24-12 lead, but after calling a timeout the Shore Hawks went on a 9-0 run, making great defensive adjustments and forcing multiple turnovers. Maryland-Eastern closed the gap to just one before half, going into the locker room down 26-25.
Coming out of halftime, Temple and Maryland-Eastern went shot for shot, with both teams missing more than they were making. Eventually with 15 minutes remaining in the game, freshman Zach Hicks out of Camden Catholic gave the Owls momentum, converting on two threes within two minutes of each other. Redshirt sophomore Tai Strickland did everything asked of him during his time in the second, shown as he finished the game with 10 points, two assists and two rebounds on 4-5 from the field.
Throughout the second half, Temple continued improving on both ends of the court and never looked back. They finished the game with a 72-49 win over the Shore Hawks, including a 46 point second half. The Owls went on a massive run, holding Maryland-Eastern to just 14 points to the Owls 36 during the last 14 minutes of the game.
Highlighting the top scorer of the game, Khalif Battle was unstoppable. Getting the starting nod for the first time at Temple, he performed great, scoring 22 points on great efficiency. Damian Dunn played his normal game, attacking and getting to the charity stripe, as he ended with 18 points and 5-5 from the line.
The deciding factor of this Owls win was their defense. Both Jeremiah and Tai would smother the opposing guards every time they touched the ball, and the mix of Nick Jourdain and Jake Forrester accumulated 5 blocks total. The Owls held the Shore Hawks to just 28% from the field, along with an even worse 25% from three.
Two players who’s statistics don’t show their impact on the game was Junior Sage Tolbert III and Freshman Jahlil White. Although both finished with zero points, their defensive intensity on the wing was fantastic. Sage Tolbert III was very impressive, having two blocks and two steals on the night. He also tied for second highest on the team with three assists, showing off his playmaking skills next to Dunn and Battle.
Players to look out for :
Zach Hicks (Forward, 6’7) While being recruited, everyone knew that he was a lengthy forward who shot threes and played good defense, but no one expected him to have the confidence he does already. Every open look from downtown was shot with no hesitation, as he shot 50% from three and was a real turning point in the first game. At that small forward position, with Sage Tolbert being more of a defensive minded forward, it allows Hicks to come in and do what he does best: shoot the ball.
Tai Strickland (Guard, 6’2) Tai is a player that reminds me a lot of previous Baylor guard Davion Mitchell. Although being undersized at 6’2, his intensity and energy is contagious throughout this Owls team. He can pick up the top guard on the opposing team the full 94 feet, or he can be a spark plug offensively. He looked great playing next to starting point guard Jeremiah Williams, which is a great sign for rotations moving forward.
Although Nick Jourdain did not perform well offensively, his nine rebounds led all players in the game, and was crucial for getting extra possessions as he pulled in four offensive rebounds. He helped the Owls out rebound the Shore Hawks 42-32, with help from Zach Hicks (5) and Khalif Battle (6). Down low, Temple’s paint presence forced Maryland-Eastern to settle for bad threes, as the Owls had eight total blocks.
Aaron McKie loves freshman Jahlil White, as him being 6’8 brings great versatility on both sides of the court. His teammates gave him the nickname “Fingers”, as although he is just raw talent right now has unlimited potential.
Pushing the Shore Hawks to an 0-2 record, Temple looks to build off their first win Saturday, November 13th against the USC Trojans. With USC losing star forward Evan Mobley to the NBA, Temple has to prepare well for his brother Isaiah Mobley, who put up 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists in their win against the CSU Northridge Matadors. This will be more of a challenging game for the Owls, so expect this young core to come out the gates with lots of energy on both sides of the court.