By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Temple 77, Penn 73 – Box Score
A former assistant under then-Penn, now-Temple head coach Fran Dunphy, new Penn head coach Steve Donahue has breathed fresh life into a struggling Quakers program this season. Wednesday night though, the student did not become the teacher as it was business as usual between these Big 5 rivals. On the Palestra court where he once roamed the home team’s sidelines for so many years, Dunphy and his Owls came away with Temple’s 9th straight victory in this series, topping Penn 77-73.
Despite the loss, Penn certainly did everything it could to make a game of things, furiously rallying to cut a late 12-point Temple lead down to 2 in the final minute. Coach Donahue spoke highly of his team’s effort in the latter part of the contest:
“Not hanging your heads and feeling sorry for yourself down 12, is great. I give these kids a lot of credit and I was very proud of our group.”
Leading the charge for the Quakers were Jackson Donahue, who hit a career-high 4 threes (all in the second half), and Antonio Woods, who dropped a career-high 22 points (including 9 in the final minute of the game), to go along with a team-high 7 assists. Fortunately for the Owls, point guard Josh Brown (10 points, 6 rebounds, career-high 9 assists) stepped up and went 4-4 from the foul line in the closing seconds to deny Penn a chance to tie the ball game.
It was a terrific performance for Temple leading scorer Quenton DeCosey, who bounced back from a foul-plagued effort against Wisconsin over the weekend to score a game-high 22 points on 7-12 shooting in this contest. DeCosey spoke to his desire to be a leader for his team this season:
“I want to be the one to take the big shots, make the big plays. Myself and Jaylen [Bond], being the leaders of this team, we got to be the go-to guys down the stretch.”
Bond recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Owls to a 34-23 advantage on the glass. He and his teammates also did a nice job limiting Penn leading scorer Darien Nelson-Henry on the interior. Nelson-Henry did shoot 5-6 from the field for 11 points, but struggled against almost constant Temple double teams down in the post and committed 5 turnovers on the evening.
Fran Dunphy played at Penn before acting as the Quakers’ head coach for 17 seasons. He spoke to what returning to the Palestra means to him:
“It’s a special place. I had the keys to the front door and I valued that very, very much.”
As they have each and every time in recent years, Dunphy and his Owls looked right at home there.