PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Temple center Wayne Marshall received his Christmas present three days early—simply by returning to the court.
Marshall made his first appearance of the season after missing Temple’s first eight games with dizzy spells. And while the 6-foot-11 center isn’t quite in optimal playing shape, his presence helped the Owls pull away for a 63-50 win Thursday night over South Carolina.
“It just feels really good to be back,” said Marshall, who had been inactive for about six months when he finally made it back to his first practice on Thanksgiving. “It was hard to sit, because I know how much I want to play.”
Marshall scored five points, grabbed a key offensive rebound, and blocked a pair of shots in 17 minutes—but more importantly, he provided the Owls with a legitimate presence inside for the first time all season.
“That’s the way we play, from the inside out,” said Temple coach John Chaney, whose team rebounded from a 73-42 loss Sunday at Auburn. “When you don t have that presence, it allows the defense to focus on the outside.”
But with Marshall’s 300-pound frame clogging the middle—the junior estimates that he’s still about 20 to 25 pounds over peak playing weight— Temple’s shooters thrived in the second half.
The Owls (6-3) went on a decisive 12-2 run after South Carolina pulled to within 48-46 on a Tarence Kinsey dunk with 6:10 left. A Dion Dacons tip-in with 2:09 left gave the Owls a 60-48 lead and gave Temple a 2-1 record in a three-game stretch against Southeastern Conference opponents.
Antywane Robinson scored 16 of his game-high 18 points and hit four 3-pointers after the break, while Mardy Collins scored 13 of his 15 in the second half. In all, Temple shot 63 percent from the floor (17-for-27) after intermission.
“We knew where the shots were coming from,” South Carolina coach Dave Odom said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t defend better than that. We tried zone, we tried man-to-man; neither worked.”
Kinsey led the Gamecocks (7-3) with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but South Carolina finished with its lowest point total of the season, far below its average of 74.3 points per game.
“There’s not a lot to explain,” Odom said. “Anyone who saw it knows we didn’t really get a handle on the game on defense or offense.”
South Carolina finished with 15 turnovers, while Temple—which averages a nation-low 6.8 turnovers per game—finished with just five. Still, the teams were tied at 22-22 after a sluggish first half, with Dustin Salisbery carrying the Owls early when he scored 11 of his 13 points.
Marshall outfought South Carolinas Brandon Wallace for an offensive rebound and putback to give Temple a 43-38 lead midway through the second half, while Robinson fittingly finished the scoring with a 3-pointer that provided the final margin.