Temple buries Hens under a flurry of threes

NEWARK — There was a moment on Thursday night when Temple guard Jesse Morgan buried a deep three-pointer.

Delaware senior Kyle Anderson asked his coach, Monte’ Ross, for some advice.

“Kyle came over and said, ‘Should I be a step closer?’” Ross recalled. “I’m like, ‘Well, he’s two feet beyond the NBA line, how I don’t know how much closer you can be?’

“Then he (Morgan) comes right back down and shoots one from even deeper. So there wasn’t a whole lot that we could do.”

Indeed, Delaware just happened to run into the hot-shooting Owls on a bad night as Temple downed the winless Blue Hens, 82-62, under a flurry of three-pointers in a men’s basketball matchup at the Carpenter Center.

An Owls squad (7-4) that hadn’t hit more than six threes in a game this season went 16-of-33 from beyond the arc on Thursday. The 16 threes tied the record for the most hit against a Delaware team.

Of course, this was also the first time that Temple played with Morgan and Devin Coleman on the court. The two transfers — Morgan from Massachusetts and Coleman from Clemson — were eligible on Thursday after the end of the Philadelphia school’s fall semester.

The two players hit the ground running, combining to sink 7-of-14 threes and net 25 points. They clearly had a big impact for Temple, which had been averaging only 62.4 points per game.

Morgan and teammate Quenton DeCosey (3-of-4 from three-point range) both scored 16 points.

“I just said to ‘Dunph’ as he walked out, ‘Probably the key to the game was him just easing Jesse Morgan back into things — not throwing him into the fire,’” Ross deadpanned about Owls coach Fran Dunphy. “Both those kids were a handful.”

The irony for the Hens (0-8) is that having Temple put up 33 three-pointers would have sounded pretty good to them before the game. The Owls were hitting just 25.9 percent from the outside on the season.

Delaware’s game plan was to focus more on stopping Temple’s inside game.

“At halftime, Temple was 8-of-15 from three,” said Ross. “I said, ‘Look, don’t worry about it. Just stick with the game plan. Don’t allow them to beat us in the lane.’ I said, ‘Their percentage is going to come down. They shoot 25.9 percent for a reason.’

“They beat us with what wasn’t their strength coming into the game.”

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a team myself that’s hit 16 threes in a game,” said Anderson. “So I mean, that’s tough. … We made a couple runs and I feel like they’d hit a deep three to kind of squash that run. Some nights people are feeling it. No matter where they shoot it from, it’s going to go in. … A couple of them, the fact that they hit them was ridiculous.”

The biggest bright spot for the Hens was Anderson’s return from a hand injury. Delaware’s lone scholarship senior, Anderson tallied a team-high 20 points while hitting 4-of-9 on threes.

After struggling to find his shooting touch in the first half, the 6-foot-3 guard was 6-of-8 from the floor and scored 17 points in the second half.

That was a big reason Delaware actually played some competitive basketball in the second half. After falling behind 37-21 at halftime, the Hens were outscored only 45-41 in the second half.

They closed within 69-55 with six minutes still left before the Owls kept them at arm’s length.

“I think having Kyle back just really opens up the middle of the floor for our bigs,” said Ross. “I thought Kyle was really rusty in the first half. It looked like he hadn’t played a game in about six months — which is probably how long it’s been since he’s played a game.

“But I thought in the second half he was Kyle Anderson. I thought he imposed his will on the game. He did what we need him to do — and that’s be the best player out there every time he steps on the court.”

Anderson’s output was only the fifth 20-point game of the senior’s career.

The Hens, who also got a career-high 11 points and 12 rebounds from sophomore Maurice Jeffers, desperately need some scoring help. Of the 345 NCAA Division I teams in the country, Delaware is last in field-goal percentage at 32 percent.

That lack of scoring is also a big reason why the Hens are 0-8 for only the third time in program history.

But, with such a young squad, Anderson said there’s still time for the Hens to get their season on track.

“We’re finding ourselves, I’m not worried about that,” he said. “We’re starting to practice harder. We’re starting to get a lot better in practice. You’re starting to see a lot of improvements in practice. It’ll start to show in the game.”

Free throws

Temple has won 19 games in a row over the Hens and leads the all-time series 39-6. … The last time the Hens were 0-8 is in the 2006-07 season when they lost thier first nine games. … Junior Marvin King-Davis also returned from an injury for Delaware and finished with eight points and three rebounds. … Temple guard Will Cummings had 11 points and 10 assists with no turnovers. … Delaware returns to action on Saturday with a 2 p.m. game at Fairleigh-Dickinson.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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