By Sean Kennedy
Temple 71, SMU 64
Carrying the dubious distinction of being the worst rebounding team in the conference, and playing the AAC’s best in that area, things didn’t look good on the boards for Temple to begin with. Then, it was discovered Anthony Lee, one of the best rebounding big men in the nation, wouldn’t be in action for the Owls after suffering a minor knee injury against Louisville. Surely, that would be the all she wrote for this contest. But as they say, that’s why they play the games, as Temple defied the odds and dominated the Mustangs on the glass by a 38-25 margin to earn their first victory over a ranked opponent in 6 tries this season.
Starting for the injured Lee, Devontae Watson had 8 points and led the team with 8 rebounds, while Dalton Pepper scored a game-high scored a game-high 24 points. Meanwhile, point guard Will Cummings played the entire 40 minutes and contributed 13 points and 7 assists. Former Villanova transfer Markus Kennedy led the Mustangs with 18 points, but SMU failed to record an offensive rebound in the first half as Temple made all the little hustle plays throughout the game on their way to their second conference win of the season. Hopefully, the Owls gained the confidence to take down ranked opponents because their next three games are also against top-25 clubs.
Creighton 101, Villanova 80
Aside from Tweety Bird and Sylvester, usually cats get the better end of any encounters with birds. However, for the second time this season, the Blue Jays absolutely manhandled the Wildcats, putting themselves on top of the food chain, and more importantly, the Big East conference. Doug McDermott was nearly unstoppable for Creighton, tying a season-high with 39 points on 13-17 shooting, including 4-6 shooting from behind the arc. Villanova didn’t throw the constant double-teams at him as in their first meeting, as McDermott showed off the skills that have him second in the nation in scoring.
With McDermott leading the way, Creighton shot 64% as a team, outpacing a Wildcats team that didn’t perform bad offensively themselves. Villanova was 11-22 from three and 46% from the field overall on the afternoon, but were unable to ever make a serious run given their inability to make a stop. James Bell paced the Wildcats with 18 points, hitting 5-6 threes himself. JayVaughn Pinkston was a perfect 9-9 from the foul line to chip in 15 points. The silver lining for the ‘Cats is they have experience this year bouncing back from a big loss against Creighton. They ripped off 6 straight wins after the first defeat at the hands of the Blue Jays and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them do it again.
Drexel 74, Hofstra 63
It’s safe to say we’ve discovered the identity of Frantz Massenat’s favorite opponent to face. After scoring a career-high 32 points and 9 assists in the teams’ earlier meeting this season, Massenat had a tremendous encore, recording 24 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals to carry the Dragons to victory. The senior guard had a big three waiting for the Pride whenever they crept back into the game, as he hit 5 of 7 triples while never leaving the floor.
Chris Fouch added 16 points for the Dragons, hitting a big three midway through the second half to spark a 10-0 Drexel run after Hofstra had trimmed the deficit down to three. Fouch and Massenat have been playing outstanding ball all season and Sunday night was no different; their efforts just make it all the more unfortunate that we won’t have the opportunity to see what Drexel could have done with a full squad. The Dragons will next hit the road for two games, facing James Madison before traveling to Delaware to battle the first-place Blue Hens.