Temple defeats Delaware, 66-63

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Fran Dunphy's Owls expect to make their fifth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance this season. (AP file photo)

 NEWARK, Del. - The Temple and Delaware campuses are 46 miles apart, but the distance between their men's basketball programs is much greater.

 The Owls expect to make their fifth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance this season. The Blue Hens hope to avoid an eighth consecutive losing campaign.

 As a result, Temple didn't create any shock waves with Friday night's 66-63 nonconference win over Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center.

 In fact, this was the Owls' 17th consecutive win over the Blue Hens (5-6), and it gave them a 37-6 series advantage.

Khalif Wyatt turned out to be the hero despite struggling from the field. The junior guard's three-pointer gave the Owls a 64-63 advantage with 30 seconds remaining.

"My teammates told me to shoot it," said Wyatt, who was 1 for 10 from the field before his trey. "My coach [Fran Dunphy] was on the sideline, telling me to keep shooting it."

Temple senior guard Ramone Moore gave him the ball, Wyatt said, adding: "He trusted me and I hit the game-winner. Good shot."

After his three, Wyatt grabbed the defensive rebound on a three-point shot. He followed by making a pair of foul shots that gave Temple a three-point cushion with 5.8 seconds to play.

Delaware's Devon Saddler missed a three-pointer at the buzzer, and the Owls escaped with the victory.

Wyatt finished with seven points as Temple improved to 9-3 heading into Wednesday's much-anticipated game against No. 7-ranked Duke at the Wells Fargo Center.

 The win gave the Owls their second three-game winning streak of the season. Delaware has lost two straight and three of its last five games.

 Junior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (13 points, eight rebounds), freshman forward Anthony Lee (career-high 12 points, seven rebounds), senior point guard Juan Fernandez (11 points, six rebounds), and Moore (10 points, six assists) were Temple's double-figure scorers.

Saddler scored a game-high 18 points.

This game was closer than some would have expected. There were eight lead changes and three ties. Neither team led by more than six points.

Sparked by a 5-0 run, the Owls had a 56-51 advantage with 6 minutes, 10 seconds remaining.

But as it did several times before, Delaware battled back from the deficit. Kyle Anderson's three-pointer gave Delaware a 63-61 lead with 2:01 left.

Unfortunately for the Blue Hens, Wyatt became a hero in the final 30 seconds as they missed their final three shots.

"I wasn't surprised that he made it. I wasn't surprised that he took it," Dunphy said of Wyatt's three-pointer. "And I wasn't surprised that Ramone set him up the way that he did.

"Ramone had great confidence in Khalif, and he came through."

This win was the Owls' second in a row that was decided in the closing seconds. Lee's floater in the final second lifted Temple to Wednesday's overtime victory over Buffalo.

 


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939, kpompey@phillynews.com, or @pompeysgridlock on Twitter. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/owlsinq