By Lewis Gould
Obi Enechionyia tied his career high with 26 points to lead Temple to a 78-72 win at Saint Joseph’s, the Owls’ first victory at the Hawks’ home arena since 1999.
The win for Temple (5-2, 2-0 Big 5) was its fourth straight and avenges back-to-back losses to SJU (3-3, 0-1 Big 5) by a combined total of three points in the last two seasons.
The largest lead belonged to the Hawks in the early going, but neither team ever gained a double-digit advantage. The Owls led by just a point, 73-72 with 2:38 remaining but held SJU scoreless the rest of the way.
Enechionyia caught fire primarily in spurts for Temple, but hit 10-of-22 from the field overall including 6-of-12 from long range in playing all 40 minutes. Freshman Quinton Rose came off the bench for 14 points (5-of-7) in just 24 minutes of action, while sophomore Shizz Alston, Jr. scored 11 points while dishing a team-high five assists.
Making his first appearance of the season off the bench after tearing his achilles tendon in May was senior point guard Josh Brown, who hit 2-of-3 from the field for four points.
The Owls got off to a slow start, hitting just one of their first eight attempts from the field as the Hawks jumped out to an 11-2 lead. Alani Moore II got Temple going with the Owls’ first three-pointer at 14:30 to cut the margin to six, and Enechionyia took over from there.
After capping an 8-2 run with his first three-pointer, Enechionyia later scored eight points in a row for the Owls to put them up 24-19 with 6:50 left in the first half. Brown entered the game for his first appearance of the season soon after that bucket, and hit his first attempt for a 26-23 lead at 5:26.
SJU answered with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 26, and briefly took a 29-28 lead at 3:45. Enechionyia drained his fourth trey in as many attempts to put Temple back up by two, 31-29 at 3:26, and the scoring slowed in the final minutes. Brown hit his second bucket with 42 seconds left for a 34-31 Temple advantage which the Owls took into halftime.
Temple made its first four attempts from the field in the second half for a 43-36 lead, but it would be the Owls’ largest of the game. The Hawks used an 8-0 run to lead by a point, 44-43 at 15:45, and the the teams traded the lead five more times over the next seven minutes.
Enechionyia struggled early in the half, but later found his stride once again and scored seven straight in a 9-2 run that put Temple up by six, 64-58 at 6:14. The Owls would not match that lead again until their final bucket, but they remained ahead the rest of the way.
The Hawks kept it close by hitting five field goals in a row down the stretch, following the fifth of those with a free throw to make it a one-point contest, 73-72 at 2:38. From there, SJU missed its final four attempts of the game.
Enechionyia blocked one of those four shots by the Hawks, and then hit a dagger three-pointer near the one-minute mark for the final score.
Temple will play its second Big 5 contest of the week on Saturday at home, facing Penn at 4 p.m. (CSN / 1210 AM WPHT).