Temple beats St. Joe's as Enechionyia scores 26

After beating two ranked teams last week, Temple's basketball team received all it could handle from a young St. Joseph's team in a typical backyard tussle.

Temple finally pulled away late in a hard-fought, 78-72 Big Five win over the Hawks before a packed house Wednesday night at Hagan Arena.

This was a win on two fronts for Temple, due to the return of senior point guard Josh Brown.

Brown, who tore his Achilles tendon in an offseason workout and had surgery on May 25, made his season debut, scoring four points in 14 minutes and making 2 of 3 shots.

"I felt good out there," Brown said. "...I am definitely happy to be out there and I can't wait for the next one."

That would be Saturday against Penn.

Brown entered the game with 6:29 left in the first half. Brown hit first shot, a major confidence booster.

"It was sigh of relief," Brown said. "I was happy and got back to my defensive assignment."

While Brown provided an emotional lift, the heavy offensive lifting was again done by Obi Enechionyia, who tied his career high with 26 points.

The 6-foot-10 junior hit 6 of 12 three-pointers, and when the Hawks sent defenders at him, he put it on the floor more than usual, creating space and shots.

"I try to be that type of player who causes problems for the other team," Enechionyia said. "...When they focus on somebody more than usual, then guys get open, and I try to be that type of player."

Temple is 5-2 and has won four in a row. The Owls are 2-0 in the Big Five. St. Joseph's fell to 3-3, 0-1.

Junior guard Shavar Newkirk, who entered the game averaging 21.8 points, scored 22 points to lead the Hawks. Sophomore guard Lamarr Kimble had 12 points, nine assists and just two turnovers.

This young St. Joseph's team, which is still without forward James Demery (stress fracture), should create plenty of problems for future opponents.

"They were able to score at key times when we made our runs, but all in all, I liked the way we fought tonight," Kimble said.

Temple also received 14 points off the bench from 6-8 freshman Quinton Rose, who hit 5 of 7 from the field and was efficient driving to the basket.

With Temple leading by a point, Enechionyia's three-point attempt went in and out, but teammate Daniel Dingle scored on the tip-in, extending the Owls' lead to 75-72 with 1 minute, 35 seconds left.

"That Dingle tip-in to me was the play," St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said.

Enechionyia then blocked Newkirk's driving layup and hit a three to extend the lead to 78-72 with 1:09 left, finally giving the Owls some breathing room.

Temple was coming off last week's championship in the NIT Season Tip-Off at the Barclays Center when the Owls beat two ranked teams, Florida State and West Virginia.

St. Joseph's didn't appear initially impressed, getting off to a roaring start, taking an 11-2 lead, but Temple quickly settled down and led by 34-31 at the half. The Owls committed just one turnover in the half and five for the game. Enechionyia, off his MVP performance in last week's tournament, had 16 points in the first half, hitting all four three-pointers, and he kept sinking big shots in the second half.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard