As we approached the arena, a group of La Salle fans climbed up from the subway chanting ‘**** You Temple’ into the cold Philadelphia night. Clearly these kids had consumed a few road sodas on the way to the game, but it still spoke to the anticipation for this important match-up and the heated rivalry between Big 5 foes. As a matter of fact, the box office attendant informed us they were sold out for the game. You might think it was due to dollar dog night, or the groupon offer earlier in the week, but fans from both sides knew how crucial this game was with the Big 5 title on the line and Atlantic 10 positioning at stake.
Two laps around the arena found a scalper with two tickets together at a reasonable price and we were in. Early on in the first half, Ramon Galloway answered a Khalif Wyatt three-pointer with a long three of his own, and then turned to the Temple student section and made the three goggles signal to his forehead. Unfortunately for Explorers’ fans, it was a lone bright spot for the team. Throughout the game, the Owls established their dominance on the glass, taking advantage of an undersized La Salle lineup in out-rebounding the Explorers 41-24 (15 to 6 on the offensive end). Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was the brightest star for Temple with game-highs of 23 points and 18 rebounds, while Scootie Randall exploited smaller guards defending him as he tallied 15 points and 10 rebounds.
After falling behind by 19 in the second half, La Salle began picking up their men full court in a effort to speed up the game. This tactic was effective as the Explorers were able to get within as close as 9 on a few occasions (before a meaningless 3 at the final buzzer cut it to 8). However, a couple dagger threes from Wyatt, who finished with 17 points, and continued dominance from Hollis-Jefferson allowed Temple to keep La Salle at arms-length throughout in securing the victory 82-74. The game ended Big 5 play for the season with La Salle and Temple finishing as co-champions at 3-1 each.
As with most college games, the main appeal is experiencing the passion and energy of the student body. The Temple student section (dubbed the Cherry Crusade) used its roll-outs to spoof the Bad Luck Brian twitter account, a fake profile detailing good things that happen to Brian but ironically turn out bad. The ‘Bad Luck Explorer’ roll-outs throughout the night were as follows:
- Gets D1 scholarship…To La Salle football.
- Gets homecoming ticket…to Tom Gola.
- Thinks they are the best… asks twitter for roll-out ideas.
- Finally on NBC… cut off for curling.
- Goes to butler game…gets hit by “flying object”.
- Complains about 200 tickets…Doesn’t have the entourage to fill it.
- Thinks its their city…really our city.
However, my favorite sign was a large photo of Dwight Schrute saying “False“, which the fan held up whenever there was a call he disagreed with on the court.
All in all, a great atmosphere tonight and a welcome reminder of the passion coinciding with the college game. La Salle will look to bounce back Sunday at Rhode Island while Temple will look to keep things going at Charlotte.