Owls make Saints pay for mistakes

Like a long, back-and-forth rally in tennis, the Temple Owls kept hitting shots, and waited for Sien
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Like a long, back-and-forth rally in tennis, the Temple Owls kept hitting shots, and waited for Siena to make mistakes.

The Saints obliged.

Neither team led by more than four points in the final 11 minutes, and Siena wasted several chances to get on top late, finally succumbing to the bigger Owls, 73-69, in a Philly Hoop Group Classic game before 6,759 at the Liacouras Center on Saturday night.

A victory might have landed Siena (2-1) into the next Associated Press top 25 poll, but instead, the Saints head into Tuesday’s home game against Delaware having missed a chance at an important non-conference win.

“They kept fighting, we kept fighting,” Siena point guard Ronald Moore, a Phil­adelphia-area native, said. “We just traded baskets too much toward the end of the game. Every time we got two or three buckets, we let them come back down and get the ball to the basket easy.”

Guards Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore — another Philadelphia native, but no relation to Ronald Moore — combined to make 15 of 21 shots, and each had a career high in scoring, with 20 and 16 points, respectively.

Fernandez’s drive gave the Owls (2-1) a 70-67 lead with 44 seconds left, and Moore added two big free throws with 22.1 seconds left to make it 72-69.

The Saints, meanwhile, kept missing opportunities to tie it with precious time winding down.

The last gasp was a turnover with 1.2 seconds left and Siena trailing, 72-69.

Head coach Fran McCaffery put soph­omore Kyle Downey in as an extra three-point shooter on a set play from the far baseline.

Alex Franklin leapt high to catch the inbounds pass with his back to the basket at the three-point stripe, and he passed to his left to Downey on the wing, but the ball slipped through Downey’s hands and out of bounds.

Ryan Brooks made one of two free throws with a tenth of a second left to complete the scoring.

“It looked like a pretty good pass,” McCaffery said. “I feel bad for the kid. He comes in, you put a three-point shooter in that situation, you don’t necessarily think he’s going to get the shot, he was the one that was open and Alexander found him. I think he was reading the defense and trying to figure out where he was.”

“It’s a play we always run during practice,” Franklin said. “I have two options, both wings. Caught it, saw Kyle, and might’ve thrown it a little too hard. I don’t know what happened.

“He makes big shots all the time whether he’s coming off the bench or in the game and in the flow, so coming off the bench, we have confidence that he’ll make the shot.”

There was culpability to be claimed all around.

For his part, Franklin missed a dunk with 2:31 left and Siena trailing by 66-63.

“I don’t know, I just missed it,” he said. “I usually don’t miss those.”

“The missed dunk, that didn’t help,” McCaffery said. “He was right at the rim. We would’ve been able to take the timeout and get into our press. Instead, they’re going the other way, and you’ve got to foul.”

That they did.

Craig Williams missed all three for Temple, though, and Edwin Ubiles made a difficult alley-oop lay-in from Ronald Moore to bring Siena within 66-65 with 1:38 left.

The Owls’ steady ball-handlers beat Siena’s press for an easy layup by Ramone Moore, Ubiles made two free throws and Fernandez made his drive to give Temple a 70-67 lead. Clarence Jackson, from nearby Marlton, N.J., missed an open three, and although Ryan Rossiter got the offensive rebound and made two free throws, it was a shot Jackson was dying to have over.

“Oh, yeah, definitely,” he said.

Siena got another golden chance when Rossiter intercepted the ensuing inbounds pass, but he lost it as he hit the deck, leading to two free throws by Ramone Moore and a 72-69 Temple lead.

On the Saints’ next possession, Ronald Moore saw a seam on the left side of the lane, but missed a layup against several defenders with no one from Siena under the basket to rebound.

“The clock was ticking, and we wanted to take the ball to the basket, because you’re either going to get fouled or get two [free throws],” he said. “I wasn’t able to complete the play, but we were able to get a quick foul. We got another look at it, but unfortunately, we turned the ball over.

“It’s hard. It’s always fun to come back and play at home. You want to win the game, but more importantly, it would’ve been an important win in the non-conference.”

“We sort of play that way, and I’m going to let Ronald go,” McCaffery said. “We didn’t execute the one transition situation. That was disappointing.

“As the game went on, we wore down a little bit. Temple’s a big, strong, physical team. Their players really competed. They had to. They kept their composure, which they do. I said coming into this game that it’s the best passing team that I’ve seen.”

“We had them by the ropes the whole game, and it came down to the last couple of possessions,” Jackson said. “We’ve got to learn to manage the game a little better.”

“If we lost this game, that would’ve really hurt us, mentally, because we had that game down at Georgetown, and we just let it slip away,” Ramone Moore said. “It was a must that we come in here and beat Siena.”

SIENA (69)

Rossiter 2-4 4-4 8, Ubiles 4-6 2-4 10, Franklin 9-15 4-7 22, Jackson 8-17 0-0 17, Ro. Moore 3-12 2-4 8, Anosike 1-2 0-0 2, Yard 0-0 0-0 0, Downey 0-1 0-0 0, Wignot 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 28-59 12-19 69.

TEMPLE (73)

Allen 4-10 0-0 8, Eric 6-8 0-0 12, Brooks 6-15 3-4 17, Fernandez 8-11 0-1 20, Guzman 0-3 0-0 0, DiLeo 0-0 0-0 0, Ra. Moore 7-10 2-3 16, Williams 0-3 0-3 0, efferson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 31-61 5-11 73.

Halftime: Siena 36, Temple 30. Three-point goals: Siena 1-9 (Jackson 1-5, Ro. Moore 0-2, Downey 0-1, Wignot 0-1); Temple 6-19 (Allen 0-2, Brooks 2-5, Fernandez 4-6, Guzman 0-1, Ra. Moore 0-2, Williams 0-3). Rebounds: Siena 35 (Rossiter 11); Temple 32 (Allen 7). Assists: Siena 17 (Ro. Moore 12); Temple 16 (Allen 5). Total fouls: Siena 12; Temple 15.

Attendance: 6,759

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