PHILADELPHIA - Juan Fernandez
scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in an 18-0 run to start the second half to propel #18/20 Temple to a 65-53 win at La Salle Sunday afternoon. Lavoy Allen
, who became the first Owl to grab 20 rebounds since 1973, added 17 points as Temple posted just its fifth 4-0 Big 5 season in school history. The Owls, who also clinched a first-round bye in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship, improve to 24-5 and 12-2 in league play. La Salle falls to 11-17, 3-11.
"It's a big deal for me," Temple coach Fran Dunphy
said on the perfect Big 5 season. "It's a big deal for Temple basketball. From a personal standpoint, to be declared champion of the Big 5 is very important."
To put it in perspective, the Owls not only can claim to be the best team in Philadelphia this season, but have joined an elite group of Owl teams to post 4-0 records in city-series play. The 2009-10 Cherry and White team joins Temple's two Final Four teams (1955-56, 1957-58) and two 32-win squads (1986-87, 1987-88) in accomplishing the feat.
The Owls 24 wins is the most since the 1999-2000 team compiled a 27-6 record. It also ties for the third most regular season wins in the program's history. Only the 1986-87 team (28) and the 1987-88 squad (26) posted more regular season victories.
At 12-2 in the A-10, Temple keeps pace with Xavier (21-7, 12-2) which defeated #23/24 Richmond (22-7, 11-3), 78-76 in double overtime, in a battle for first place.
It was not easy for the Owls, however, as the Explorers came ready to play. La Salle, behind 12 first half points each by Rodney Green and Jerrell Williams, took a 33-32 lead into the locker room at the half. Green fed Williams on a breakaway lay-up with 1.5 seconds left to cap the first 20 minutes that included 10 fastbreak points for the Explorers.
Fernandez, making his first start since Feb. 3, was redhot during the Owls impressive 18-0 run over the first six minutes of the second half. The 6-4 sophomore, who leads the A-10 in three-point accuracy (61-135, .452), followed a Micheal Eric
(10 pts) layup with two threes.
, who dished a career-high seven assists for the second straight game, then hit Allen with a nice pass for a dunk. Fernandez then drained two more three-pointers. Allen added a lay-up, making it 50-33.
La Salle freshman Aaric Murray (10 pts) hit a jumper to end the run. That keyed a 10-0 Explorer run, cutting the deficit to seven, 50-43.
Temple then scored seven of the next nine points, pushing the lead to 57-45 on an Allen jumper. The margin never dipped below double-digits the remainder of the contest.
Allen, who also scored 17 points, grabbed his 20th rebound with 2:38 remaining. It marked the first time a Temple player pulled down 20 rebounds in a game since Joe Newman grabbed 24 against Drexel on Feb. 5, 1973.
Temple dominated the glass against a strong-rebounding La Salle team, out-rebounding the Explorers, 50-27.
Green finished with 21 points to lead La Salle while Williams added 17.
Temple next travels to Saint Louis for a Wednesday night (8:00 p.m. ET/950 AM ESPN Radio).