Temple is a half-game off the Atlantic 10 lead as it chases its first regular-season conference championship since 2002. A matchup with struggling St. Joseph’s could help the Owls keep pace, or even move atop the league.
In the teams’ 150th meeting, No. 21 Temple will try to win its seventh straight over St. Joseph’s on Saturday at The Palestra.
Paced by Ramone Moore’s career-high 18 points, the Owls (21-5, 9-2) won 73-55 at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday to stay even with Xavier and just behind Richmond. The Musketeers and Spiders also play Saturday.
Moore led the Owls in scoring in four of the last five games, averaging 15.2 points on 53.8 percent shooting during that span. The sophomore guard has started the last three games in place of Juan Fernandez, who appears fully recovered after missing a Feb. 6 loss at Richmond due to a head injury.
Fernandez, the A-10’s leading 3-point shooter at 44.7 percent, scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half and finished 2 of 3 from beyond the arc Wednesday. He will look for a better effort against St. Joseph’s than he had Jan. 6, a 73-46 Owls victory in which he missed all 10 shots and committed three turnovers.
That win was Temple’s most lopsided in the series since a 31-point victory at The Palestra on Jan. 3, 1985. Despite sitting the opening 8:03 after missing a required film session the day before, junior Lavoy Allen had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Owls.
Allen could have another big game against a Hawks team that is last in the conference with 32.3 rebounds per contest.
St. Joseph’s (9-17, 3-9), outrebounded by 24 in last month’s matchup with Temple, had 36 fewer boards than Xavier in an 88-52 defeat Wednesday.
“We do leave having turned them over 19 times and most of that was against our zone,” Hawks coach Phil Martelli told the school’s official Web site following his team’s third straight defeat. “We’ll use that as we try to scratch out a few more wins in these final games.”
The Hawks could struggle offensively against Temple, which leads the A-10 in scoring defense at 57.4 points per game and is second in field-goal percentage defense at 38.4. The Owls held St. Joseph’s to 31.5 percent shooting Jan. 6.
Temple leading scorer Ryan Brooks, who had 13 points in that game, scored all 13 of his points in the second half and shot 6 of 12 on Wednesday. Brooks went 7 of 8 and scored 18 points in a 78-56 win over Rhode Island last Saturday.
“I felt my team needed me to be more productive than I was in the first half, so I took a more aggressive approach and played with more confidence,” Brooks said after Wednesday’s victory.
Temple is 84-65 against St. Joseph’s.
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