It came down to the wire again for Temple (21-8,9-5 A 10) but the Owls got impressive performances from Khalif Wyatt, Will Cummings, Jake O’Brien and Scootie Randall and took down Rhode Island, 76-70, at the Liacouras Center on Saturday afternoon
Wyatt paved the way for the Owls with 24 points, but Cummings recorded his most impressive game of the season, going 6-7 from the floor for a career-high 15 points and also added 4 steals.
When Cummings is able to navigate his way to the basket and finish at the rim, the offensive scheme opens up for the Owls and with his athleticism. Cummings brings a different dynamic to the point guard position that Temple has lacked in years past.
Cummings has exceptional speed and utilized that by taking what the Rhode Island defense gave him, finding holes and driving to the basket.
“Just seeing openings and taking advantage of it and not thinking twice about it and just reacting to when an opening comes open,” Cummings said. “Just playing basketball how I learned to play basketball when I was younger.”
It has been an up and down year for the point man, as Cummings has undergone the bumps and bruises of getting used to the pace of college basketball, but has shown glimpses of the player that Temple had in mind when they signed him to a national letter of intent out of Jacksonville, Florida and was magnificent in today’s conference win.
“He adds another scorer for us that in some games is desperately needed. I thought his two threes today were very important for us. He also took it to the basket a couple of times. He’s a very physical player,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said when asked about Cummings’ performance.
“He’s simply our fastest guy and maybe our best athlete in all honesty so for him to get loose balls and do a couple of things that gets you an extra possession or save you one it’s really important. I thought he was terrific today.”
Cummings’ effort this season has never been questioned. Countless times, Cummings has laid out onto the floor for loose balls and made critical “hustle plays” that allowed the Owls to maintain and extend possessions.
“I think Will played great. I think he made good decisions with the ball and when he saw lanes to attack, he attacked. And when he saw open guys he passed the ball,” Wyatt said after the game. ” I think the biggest thing was I think he got on the floor like four or five times and got loose balls that we needed and that definitely inspired everybody else, got the crowd into the game and got us out in transition a little bit so I think he played real good today.”
Cummings played 33 minutes and committed just a single turnover.
Rhode Island shot the lights out in the first half, hitting 50 percent of their shots and took a 37-36 lead into halftime, thanks to 19 first-half points from the Atlantic 10′s second leading scorer, Xavier Munford.
Munford went for 30 points in the game on 12-23 shooting, including a 5-8 tally from beyond the arc.
Temple and Rhode Island were exchanging buckets throughout the midst of the game, but from the 13:07 mark till just over 10 minutes left in the game, Temple went on a 10-0 run to take a 10-point lead, highlighted by two technical fouls on the Rams.
Munford picked up his fourth personal foul with 6:30 left in the game, prompting Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley who take his best offensive asset out of the game, which would cost the Rams in stretches as the game wound down.
“If I were Coach Hurley I wouldn’t of liked to have taken him off the floor for any stretch of time. I thought he was fabulous today. The more I look at film, he’s the second leading scorer in the league behind Khalif and the more I watch the more impressed I was,” Dunphy said.
“(Munford) really wanted to beat us today and I was very impressed with his game.”
Poor foul shooting plagued both teams as Rhode Island went 10-20 from the line and Temple was not much better and over came a 13-24 mark from the strike.
Wyatt, Cummings, Scootie Randall, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Jake O’Brien all saw at least 33 minutes of action.
O’Brien got the start in place of sophomore forward Anthony Lee, who did not play due to a hip pointer, and recorded his first double double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. O’Brien also blocked 3 shots.
Scootie Randall also continued his strong play with 15 points on 6-13 shooting and pulled down 8 rebounds.
Hollis-Jefferson did what he does best as a glue guy, scoring 6 points, nabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 5 assists.
Wyatt, Cummings, O’Brien and Randall combined for 70 of Temple’s 76 total points on the afternoon.
Temple will travel to Fordham on March 6th for their final road game of the 2012-13 season.
Will Cummings, Khalif Wyatt and Fran Dunphy address the media
-Injury note: Anthony Lee’s status for Wednesday’s game is uncertain after suffering a hip pointer in Temple’s 83-78 win over Detroit.
Lee participated in yesterday’s shoot around and was on the floor for warmups prior to tip off, but was not comfortable with giving it a go against Rhode Island.
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