PHILADELPHIA — It was dispiriting enough for Maryland, after slashing what had been a 12-point second-half deficit to one, to watch Temple hit three consecutive three-pointers down the stretch of Saturday’s clash at the Palestra.
But the fact that a different Temple guard hit each three-pointer in the 99-second span only added to the Terrapins’ frustration as the Owls turned a momentary nail-biter into a rout.
In rolling to a 73-60 victory, Temple proved that teamwork will trump height — and the talents of the ACC’s leading scorer — every time.
Once again, Maryland’s scoring was led by sophomore Terrell Stoglin (20 points). But once again, Stoglin’s offense wasn’t enough, even with back court mate Pe’Shon Howard adding a season-high 15 (he had 15 points combined in the previous four games).
Temple won the rebounding battle (31 to 30), managed twice as many steals (8-4) and committed six fewer turnovers than Maryland’s 16. Above all, Temple embarrassed Maryland on the statistic that reveals most about teamwork, finishing with 20 assists on 27 made baskets, while Maryland had just eight assists on its 22 field goals.
“Their basketball IQ is as good as anybody I’ve coached,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said of Owls guards Khalif Wyatt (20 points, seven assists), Ramone Moore (20 points, one assist) and Juan Fernandez (14 points, five assists). “They look for one another. As good a scorers as they all are, they enjoy passing it as much.”
Maryland (12-6) has lost to the Atlantic 10 stalwart twice in the last two seasons. And Saturday, the Terrapins also lost 7-foot-1 center Alex Len, who twisted his right ankle 10 minutes into the game and was unable to continue, relegated to the bench after having his entire foot encased in ice.
Coach Mark Turgeon played down the significance of Len’s injury, and a team official said there would be no further medical update Saturday on his condition.
However benign, the setback is significant, coming just four days before Maryland resumes ACC competition by hosting No. 4 Duke at Comcast Center.
Saturday’s game against guard-heavy Temple (13-5) was supposed to be an opportunity for Len, whose scoring and rebounding has dropped off markedly of late, to reassert himself and regain his confidence. But in his brief seven minutes, his stat line was all zeros except for two fouls and one turnover.
With Maryland’s inside game ineffective, Temple jumped to a 14-10 lead. At that point, Dunphy sent in 6-11 center Micheal Eric, who hadn’t played since Nov. 20 after injuring his right knee, and Temple’s fans erupted in cheers.
Stoglin pulled the Terrapins even at 14 on a successful trip to the free throw line, and Howard let out a roar when his wildly off-balance jumper went in to tie it again at 18, energizing the Maryland fans who occupied one end of the gym.
But Temple pulled away for a 32-29 lead at the break and erupted for eight unanswered points to start the second period, with Moore and Wyatt hitting back-to-back three-pointers.
With his post players clearly struggling to cover Temple’s guards (and giving up potential rebounds as they extended their defense), Turgeon shifted to a smaller lineup and was pleased with his players’ ability to adapt on the fly. Senior guard Sean Mosley, laboring with a sore ankle, led the Terrapins’ effort on the boards, finishing with a season-high 10 rebounds.
With just less than nine minutes to play, Mychal Parker’s free throw made it a one-possession game, with Maryland trailing 55-52. But from that point on, Stoglin was the only Maryland player who scored. Temple, meanwhile, got baskets from five players. For that segment, the score was Temple 18, Stoglin 8.
The Owls’ three consecutive three-pointers, which turned a 57-56 lead into a 66-59 edge with 3 minutes 29 seconds left, were “pretty deflating,” conceded junior forward James Padgett (10 points, four rebounds). “We need more people to score and get consecutive stops.”
Said Turgeon, “Take away the last two minutes, and it was a heck of a game.”