Playing before the largest crowd to witness a basketball game in Walker arena, Temple grabbed an eight-point lead with a 12-0 run of their own. The Flames, urged on by the huge crowd, fought back and garnered a 37-32 halftime advantage.
“Thank goodness for the great crowd,” said coach Tommy Brown. “I thought they (Temple) were going to beat us 100-0 at one point. “We are going to have moments like that with this team. We are so young.”
The battle officially goes down in the books as an exhibition game, but you could never convince the fans and players about the meaning of the contest.
Loaded with newcomers, the excited fans watched as 5-foot-8 freshman guard Stedmon Ford exploded for 18 points in the second half and finished the affair with 22 points. Ford scored on a variety of ways and was 8-of-15 from the field and 3-of-5 from three point range.
“Stedmon is an exciting player, but he does more than score for our team.” explained Brown. “I thought all our point guards did some good things (Bryce Copeland and Evan Forhetz).
Ford, who played his high school ball at Chattanooga Notre Dame, had plenty of help. Newcomer Valentino Thomas had 17 points, 11 rebounds, recording a double-double. Veteran Cory Billingsley made 7-of-10 free throws and tallied 15 points, while another newcomer, Tyquan Roberts had 14 points and six boards.
Brown, who prides himself on team defense, got an excellent effort from senior Brice Sharp. “Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job of defending a good Temple team, especially after their run in the first half,” he remarked. “Our guys also battled inside against a bigger team, but we are going to have to do that a lot this year.”
The Flames completely dominated the glass (47-25). Jay Marquette joined Roberts with six rebounds while Sharp finished with five.
Both teams shot 45 percent from the field and the Crusaders also canned 5-of-13 three pointers (39 percent). The Flames only knocked down 4-of-13 treys (31 percent).
Lee had a five point advantage in the free-throw department, making 24-of-35. The Crusaders went to the line 25 times and converted 19. Lee was guilty of 17 floor mistakes and Temple 15.
The Flames outscored the visitors 44-36 in points garnered in the paint. Brown’s unit also had 15 second chance points to only four for the Crusaders. Jared Smith paced the losers with 20 points. Hampton Mack tallied 18 and former Lee player Elliot Johnson added 12.