SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Temple defeated Western Michigan, 69-55, in Thursday’s opening game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico.
The Owls (2-0) advance to Friday’s 1 p.m. semifinal against Purdue. The Broncos (0-2) will face Iona in Friday’s 3:30 p.m. consolation game.
All five of Temple’s starters scored in double figures.
Micheal Eric had a one of his best performances in an Owls' uniform.
The 6-foot-11 center had 12 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Eric, a graduate student, also contained Western Michigan center Matt Stainbrook.
Stainbrook finished with 14. But 12 came in the second half while the Owls had a sizeable lead. The 6-9, 290-pound sophomore was coming off a 32-point performance against South Dakota State.
Temple's fifth-year senior guard Ramone Moore finished with a game-high 15 points, five assists and four rebounds. Senior point guard Juan Fernandez added 14 points and a game-high six assists. Khalif Wyatt, a junior guard, finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. And junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson had 13 points and five rebounds.
Temple jumped out to an early 9-0 lead and never trailed. The Owls' biggest first-half of 17 points (23-6) came with 10 minutes, 34 seconds before intermission.
The Broncos pulled within nine with 3:03 left in the half. But that was Western Michigan’s last field goal of the half. Taking advantage, the Owls went into the locker room up, 37-21.
Temple went on to lead by as many as 22 points twice after intermission.