No. 24 Temple 75, Dayton 63
Lavoy Allen warmed up with No. 24 Temple, making a few tentative cuts and jumps to see how his sprained left ankle would react.
Not as well as he had hoped.
Allen thought it best to sit out one game, forcing the short-handed Owls to play in a tough arena without one of the top rebounders in their history. They barely missed him, turning Ramone Moore's 26 points and stingy defense into their sixth straight win, 75-63 over Dayton on Saturday.
''Nine minutes before the game, he came in and Coach said, 'Can you go?' and he said no,'' said Moore, who had a career-high nine rebounds. ''He said, 'I've got confidence in those guys, that they're going to be able to do a good job without me.' That's what we did.''
The Owls (19-5, 9-2 Atlantic 10) remained one game behind league leaders Xavier and Duquesne, who play for sole possession of first place Sunday on the Dukes' court.
''It's great for our confidence,'' said point guard Juan Fernandez, who had nine assists without a turnover. ''It's at a great point of the year. We need (Xavier) to lose at least one more game. That would be great. But it's really up to us. We can't lose any more from here on.''
The Owls held their own on the boards and let their defense do the rest. Scootie Randall added 17 points in a balanced offense.
Dayton (17-9, 5-6) shot 37 percent from the field against the A-10's stingiest defense. Chris Wright led the Flyers with 15 points. Whenever Dayton would make a couple of baskets and seem to get a little momentum, the Owls would match them.
''We were playing better, but we weren't able to get the stops we needed,'' coach Brian Gregory said. ''They're one of the best passing teams not just in the league, but in the country.''
Temple was coming off a costly 77-66 victory over Fordham on Wednesday. Allen, who ranks third all-time among Temple rebounders, sprained his left ankle during the second half and left the game after getting a season-high 14 rebounds.
''We're hoping he can play next Thursday,'' coach Fran Dunphy said, referring to a home game against Richmond. ''If it was the last game of the year, he would have played. He made the best judgment he could. After warmups we asked him how he felt, and he said it was best that he didn't go.''
The Owls used only seven players and each got at least one rebound. Dayton held a 40-39 edge on the boards.
The Flyers fell to 13-3 at home this season, losing their only game against a ranked team. Dayton has been erratic all season, done in by its inability to shoot. The Flyers are second-last in the Atlantic 10 with a 40.3 percent field goal percentage.
Temple's defense made the difference.
Both teams started cold. Temple missed its first seven shots while Dayton went 3 of 12, keeping it close. Temple went ahead to stay with an 11-2 run led by Moore, who hit a 3, a baseline jumper and a jumper off an inbound pass that put the Owls up 18-12. Moore had 11 points in the first half.
The Owls closed the half with an 8-2 spurt that featured two baskets by Randall and left the Owls ahead 31-21. Dayton shot only 26 percent in the half, going 7 of 27 from the field with nine turnovers.
Temple kept the defensive pressure on at the start of the second half, preventing Dayton from making a run to get back into the game. Randall hit a 15-foot jumper, Moore made two free throws and Rahlir Jefferson - starting for Allen - made a driving layup that pushed the lead to 59-42 with 6:57 left.
The Owls missed the front end of a 1-and-1 three straight times, allowing Dayton to make a surge that cut it to 62-54 in the closing minutes. The Owls put it away by making their last 11 free throws, eight by Moore.