EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - There wasn't a whole lot of noise at the start of Temple's game with Fordham. Maybe that's why the Owls took a while to come around and look like themselves on a 70-51 victory Wednesday night.
The game was played in front of about 1,000 people in the Izod Center, a building that has drawn almost 21,000 fans in the past for Seton Hall, New Jersey Nets and NCAA tournament games. Fordham took advantage of its new second home, going up 27-22 with 5:24 left in the first half.
Then things changed quickly and it was all in Temple's favor.
``I think it affected us a little in the beginning. This is a big arena,' Temple guard Ramone Moore said of the Owls' slow start. ``We knew there wouldn't be many people so we just had to play because in any situation, you never know.'
Owls coach Fran Dunphy gave a different reason for the bumps in the early going of the conference opener for the three-time defending A-10 champions.
``The slow starts for us was because Fordham was prepared and ready to go,' he said. ``They were slicing us up a little bit and they made shots early. We just weren't as ready to go as Fordham was early on. Then we did some switching on the perimeter and that seemed to help us a little bit.'
It was a little more than a little bit.
The Owls (10-3, 1-0), who took over the game by closing the first half on a 13-0 run for a 35-27 lead and opening the second on a 19-4 burst to take a 55-31 lead with 12:20 to play.
``We came out in the second half and we had to stop those guys and get easy baskets and we did a good job of establishing Mike and Lavoy inside and playing good team basketball,' Moore said.
Moore and fellow guard Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore both scored 15 points for Temple, while junior center Michael Eric had 14 points and 11 rebounds - his first career double-double - and forward Lavoy Allen added 12 points.
Fernandez and Moore had seven rebounds each as Temple finished with a 42-27 advantage on the boards.
``It was an advantage for us to play them in our first A-10 game because now you see what it takes to be at the top of this conference,' first-year Fordham coach Tom Pecora said. ``The physical play was exceptional. We executed our game plan for the first 15 minutes, they executed theirs for the last 25.
``They are a lot like Duke in that they defend you physically but never foul you and they make you take difficult shots. They are very disciplined.'
Freshman Branden Frazier had 16 points for the Rams (6-7, 0-1), who lost their third straight overall and 27th straight in the conference. Fordham was 1-15 in the A-10 in 2008-09 and 0-16 last season.
Fordham built a 27-22 lead by going 4 of 7 from 3-point range while the Owls were struggling from outside the arc (2 of 8) and just weren't being effective inside.
Eric started the closing run for the Owls when he converted on a 2-on-1 fast break. Fernandez hit a 3 to open things up a bit and the Owls' next eight points came inside, all but two by Allen, a 6-foot-9 senior forward who played for the USA Select team last summer.
It was back to Temple's balanced offense to start the second half with the points split between the perimeter and in the lane in the 19-4 run that put the Owls up 55-31. The closest the Rams would get the rest of the way was 15 points.
``When they raised the intensity level we didn't match it,' Pecora said. ``It's a learning experience and we'll be better for it.'
Temple came into the game leading the conference by allowing 59.8 points per game and opponents were shooting 38.3 percent from the field. This was the eighth time overall and the first time in four game the Owls held an opponent below 60 points.
Fordham finished 8 of 18 on 3s while the Owls made 4 of 15 attempts.
The Rams' last conference win was a 67-65 victory over St. Bonaventure on Jan. 28, 2009.
Fordham, which won two games total last season and three the season before, will play three more games in the Izod Center this season and will continue to use it as a second home court in the future.
``I want a picture from tonight and take in 2 years when there will be a crowd in this place and this place will be jumping,' Pecora said. ``Thet's the direction we're moving no doubt about that but it takes time and we have to take steps.'
The Associated Press News Service
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