[Juan Fernandez and the rest of the Temple Owls proved to be too much for St. Bonaventure, leaving the Reilly Center with a 76-70 triumph – Photo by Melissa Scott]
By Ryan Lazo, Co-editor in chief/feature columnist, @RMLazo13
The game was there for the taking.
St. Bonaventure had stormed back from a 27-20 deficit with an 11-0 run to take a four-point lead in the waning minutes of the opening half. A quick Temple run before halftime cut the lead to only one, 31-30.
But in the end the Owls (20-5, 9-2) were too much for the Bonnies (13-10, 6-5) to handle in a 76-70 loss Wednesday night at the Reilly Center.
The Owls victory snapped an eight-game home winning streak for the Bonnies and extended Temple’s dominance over St. Bonaventure to 15-games.
It was a tale of two halves as the Bonnies limited the Owls big three of Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore and Khalif Wyatt, averaging a combined 47 points per game coming in, to only 5-of-15 shooting in the first half.
However, Temple coach Fran Dunphy knew Moore would turn it around.
“I know his mentality toward the game and I knew he would get into rhythm,” Dunphy said of Moore’s poor first half.
The big three would end the game shooting 14-of-31 for 52-points, more than three-quarters of Temple’s points.
But this game was not all Temple.
The Bonnies were in this game throughout and were seemingly lifted by the play of junior Eric Mosley.
Whenever the Owls would go on a run, it was Mosley who extinguished the flames.
Down 16-11, it was Mosley’s two 3-pointers that gave St. Bonaventure the lead.
Then, with Temple threatening to break the game open on two different occasions, it was Mosley with two shifty drives to the basket while drawing the foul.
Both times Mosley pulled the Bonnies to within two.
“I just worked the inside out with Andrew and took what the defense gave me,” Mosley said of his 18 point effort.
Nicholson also did his best to bring the Bonnies back, recording 12 of his team-high 19 points in the second half on 8-of-15 shooting including 2-for-2 from 3-point range.
Unfortunately a 14-point second half deficit was too much for the Bonnies to overcome, but one must put this loss in perspective.
The Bonnies lost to Temple on the road by an 83-55 margin last season and 73-55 the previous season. This same Owls team beat Duke earlier this season and defeated Xavier over the weekend.
They received 122 votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, leaving them just shy of cracking the Top 25.
Yet in the waning minute of the game, the Bonnies still had a chance for another memorable finish last seen with a J.R. Bremmer 3-pointer to beat Temple.
The fact did not escape Dunphy’s mind.
“They’re a really good basketball team,” Dunphy said of the Bonnies. “They will be a force to be reckoned with as we get into the conference tournament.”
With five games remaining, the Bonnies are fighting for seeding in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament.
Once there, they have the talent to succeed.