Mark Williams' hot hand leads Temple past Penn


Mark Williams' hot hand leads Temple past Penn


Mark Williams used to do it all the time when he came to North Broad Street.

He would use a spin move, then fire a shot with his left hand. It’s not a high-percentage shot by any means, and it’s one Temple head coach Fran Dunphy says only falls in the low teens percentage-wise. It is also one Dunphy has tried to eliminate from Williams’ repertoire.

“Coach Dunphy got me away from it,” Williams said. “But today, I was just feeling it.”

He made it and seven others, as the sophomore finished with a career-high 24 points and Temple snapped its two-game losing streak with a 76-67 win over Penn (0-4) Tuesday night at the Liacouras Center in the first Big 5 matchup of the season (see Instant Replay). The Owls are now 3-2 on the season.

“I was a little surprised at that to be honest,” Dunphy said of Williams’ one-handed shot. “I was grateful, thankful on this holiday season. It’s probably not a good shot, but it went in tonight so I won’t yell at him too much. Maybe when we watch the film I’ll go, ‘Yo, what’s up with this?’”

The 6-foot-8 forward scored his 24 points on 8 of 12 shooting and went 6 of 7 from the charity stripe. He was 2 for 5 from three-point range and pulled down five rebounds. As a team, Temple was 6 for 24 from beyond the arc.

“He felt good about shooting that three and made a couple of threes that bailed us out,” Dunphy said. “He had a couple inside plays that were very important for us. He made a baseline jumper in the second half. He did some pretty good things on the offensive end. I was happy for him.”

Penn’s game plan was no different than any other of Temple’s opponents: Pack the paint, play zone and force the Owls to take contested shots. It just so happened Williams had a special night.

“To his credit, he stepped up and made some big ones for them,” Penn head coach Jerome Allen said of Williams. “I thought the finish he had with his left hand was a tough finish. They needed an offensive boost and he was there to deliver it.”

Jaylen Bond came off the bench in his first appearance at home as a Temple Owl. Bond missed the first two games with a sprained ankle, but made his season debut in Friday’s 74-54 loss to No. 4 Duke in Brooklyn. He finished with just two points, but he made a difference defensively.

The Plymouth-Whitemarsh product finished with four rebounds, three steals and a block. He had two steals and a block at halftime, with one of those steals being a key moment in the first half.

With 1:46 left, Bond intercepted a Penn pass and pushed it to Will Cummings, who drove the length of the floor to put Temple up 40-32. While the Owls only trailed 29 seconds, Penn battled hard in the first half to make it a game, tying it a few times.

Just a few possessions before, Penn was within four. A couple free throws by Josh Brown, who finished with 11 points, an one-handed putback on an offensive rebound by Obi Enechionyia and Cummings’ layup off the steal helped the Owls enter the break with a seven-point lead.

“He had three big steals for us tonight,” Dunphy said of Bond. “He stepped over, or around (Darien) Nelson-Henry and made some really nice plays on the defensive end. That’s where he’s going to make his money, playing defense and getting out and running the floor. The offense will come.”

Bond missed his first five shots of the game and two free throws before finally scoring his only two points of the game in the second half with 3:23 seconds left in the game.

For the Owls, it’ll take time to work Bond into the mix. He missed all of last season because of NCAA rules after transferring to Temple from Texas, and then sprained his ankle. He hasn’t played a lot of basketball in the last year, so it’s process of developing chemistry with the team.

“I feel like it’s day by day, we’re still learning each other,” Cummings, who finished with 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting, said. “I feel like we’re getting better.”

As for Penn, the loss now puts the Quakers at 0-4 this season with losses to Delaware State, Rider and Lafayette. The Quakers next play Saturday at 4 p.m. in New York against Wagner. But for Allen, Tuesday was Penn’s most important game of the year.

“It was the most important game of the year only because it was the next game on the schedule,” Allen said. “We just try to take a workman’s attitude to the schedule and not get ahead of ourselves.

“I’m from Philly, I’ve watched, not only as a player, as a fan and as a coach, just the interaction on and off the floor with this entity that we call the Big 5. It’s special because it’s special. It’s special because it’s the next game. But it’s not necessarily about me.

“We’re trying to win basketball games. That being said, we’re going to dissect it like we did the previous three games and try to use it as a tool to get better.”

Saint Joseph's comeback bid comes up short vs. Florida

AP Images

Saint Joseph's comeback bid comes up short vs. Florida

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Keyontae Johnson saw Florida’s big lead shrink to almost nothing in the final minute. He made sure his teammates didn’t let this one get away from the Gators.

Johnson had a career-high 22 points to lead the Gators to a 70-62 victory over Saint Joseph’s at the Charleston Classic, playing without ejected leading scorer Kerry Blackshear Jr. on Thursday. Not that it came easily as Florida (3-2) saw its 18-point lead cut to 64-62 in the final minute.

“We just communicated, told everyone to stay together,” Johnson said. “We stayed locked in.”

The focus proved the difference as Florida hit six foul shots down the stretch while Saint Joseph’s missed two shots and committed a pair of turnovers.

“Down the stretch, I thought we showed a tremendous toughness,” Florida coach Mike White said.

The Gators needed it with Blackshear missing almost all of the game. He played three minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls. Then he was thrown out when he was battling underneath and his elbow looked like it hit Saint Joseph’s guard Taylor Funk. Blackshear, who came in averaging 14 points and 12 boards, was called for a flagrant two foul and sent off the court.

Blackshear’s departure seemed to energize the Hawks (2-3), who trailed 43-27 when the Florida star left the court. That’s when St. Joseph’s went on a 29-16 spurt to cut it to three points on Funk’s basket with six minutes left.

But Johnson followed with a basket and Andrew Nembhard made another to extend the lead.

St. Joseph’s had one last charge, slicing things to 64-62 on Ryan Daly’s layup in the final minute. The Hawks had several chances to tighten things, but could not. “We’re not going to go down easy,” Daly said.

Florida will take on Miami here Friday for a spot in the Charleston Classic finals.

The Hawks face Missouri State on Friday.

Johnson also had a game-high 12 rebounds. Nembhard added 16 points.

Florida took control quickly and appeared to make this a runaway as Noah Locke had two 3-pointers and Nembhard also hit one from behind the arc as the Gators went ahead 11-2 less than two minutes in and steadily built its lead.

St. Joseph’s had hit 34 first-half 3s combined its first four games. It made just one of its 14 long-range attempts this time as it fell behind.

Daly led the Hawks with 25 points.

Swider scores 26, No. 17 Villanova routs MTSU 98-69

USA Today Images

Swider scores 26, No. 17 Villanova routs MTSU 98-69

CONWAY, S.C. -- It’s been awhile since No. 17 Villanova shot this well from long range. Cole Swider has never scored like this.

Swider scored a career-high 26 points with six 3-pointers, and the Wildcats routed Middle Tennessee 98-69 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.

Collin Gillespie added 16 points and hit four 3s, Justin Moore finished with 15 points and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 11 rebounds to help Villanova (3-1) - which never trailed, led by 35 and shot 57% while winning its second straight following a 25-point loss at No. 10 Ohio State.

And yet, another number in the box score caught coach Jay Wright’s eye - Swider’s seven rebounds.

“He’s more than just a shooter,” Wright said.

And the Wildcats have plenty of those. They made 18 3s - one shy of the school record, and their most since they also had 18 in a victory over Kansas at the 2018 Final Four.

“They have elite size with great shooters,” Middle Tennessee coach Nick McDevitt said, “and any short close-out or decent close-out results in three points.”

Eleven of them came during a first-half barrage that pushed the lead well into the 20s. Swider hit his fifth 3 from the corner shortly before the buzzer to put the Wildcats up 53-28 at halftime.

Saddiq Bey then took the lead to 30 with a 3-pointer two minutes into the second half.

Donovan Sims scored 18 points and C.J. Jones had 16 for the Blue Raiders (3-2). Leading scorer Antonio Green, averaging 23.5 points going into the game, finished with four points on 1-of-7 shooting while dealing with foul trouble.

“They’ve got a lot of interchangeable parts, so they were switching just to never let him see space,” McDevitt said.