Coming off a close victory over one city foe, Temple could be in for a second straight tough challenge against another Philadelphia rival.
Looking for their first 12-game winning streak in 12 years, the No. 22 Owls hope to continue their recent success over Saint Joseph’s on Saturday night when they face the Atlantic 10 rival Hawks at their on-campus arena for the first time since 2001.
Ranked for the first time this season, Temple (22-5, 11-2) pulled out an 80-79 overtime win at La Salle on Wednesday. The Owls improved to 3-0 against Philadelphia Big 5 rivals, and they last went 4-0 versus Big 5 foes in 2009-10.
However, achieving that feat could be difficult this weekend.
Though the Owls are trying to win 12 in a row for the first time since Jan. 18-Feb. 26, 2000, and are looking for an 11th consecutive victory over Saint Joseph’s (18-11, 8-6), they’ll be playing in front of a raucous crowd at the Hawks’ Hagan Arena for the first time since losing 71-62 on Feb. 13, 2001.
Temple, which has won by an average of 11.6 points during its win streak over Saint Joseph’s, is 5-4 all-time at Hagan. The Hawks hosted the Owls in the previous 10 meetings at The Palestra.
“You love the competition,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, whose team last lost 76-65 at Richmond on Jan. 14. “You’ll play anywhere they tell you.”
The Owls’ tight victory in front of a sold-out crowd at La Salle could prove to be a nice primer for this matchup. Khalif Wyatt scored 25 points, Michael Eric had 18 with 12 rebounds and Ramone Moore also added 18 as the Owl hung on after blowing a 10-point lead with 2:46 left in regulation.
Temple is 4-0 in overtime games this season. It also won 73-67 in overtime at Big 5 rival Pennsylvania on Nov. 14 to open 2011-12.
“We should be able to manage the game better,” said Dunphy, whose team has a one-half game conference lead over Saint Louis.
Averaging a conference-leading 18.1 points, Moore scored five of Temple’s nine points in overtime Wednesday. He had 21 in a 78-60 home victory over Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 28.
Wyatt was held to 10 points in that contest but has averaged 20.9 on 52.4 percent shooting in seven games since.
“He’s a great offensive player,” Dunphy said of Wyatt, who has averaged 6.5 points on 5-of-24 shooting in four career games versus Saint Joseph’s. “He’s a fearless kid, he wants the opportunity and he takes advantage of it.”
Saint Joseph’s looks to take advantage of facing the Owls on campus while trying for its first series win since a 68-67 victory Jan. 26, 2008.
The Hawks had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 52-49 home loss to Richmond on Wednesday. Langston Galloway had 15 points as Saint Joseph’s shot 38.1 percent but still managed to overcome an 11-point second-half deficit to tie the game with 32 seconds left.
“We have to grow and be ready,” coach Phil Martelli told Saint Joseph’s official website.
Carl Jones (16.1 points per game) and Galloway (15.5) rank among the A-10’s leading scorers, but they combined for 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting against the Owls last month.
The Hawks, 1-1 against Top 25 teams this season, beat then-No. 19 Creighton 80-71 at Hagan on Dec. 10.