No. 21 Temple 78, Rhode Island 56

PHILADELPHIA -- Micheal Eric had a career game and Temple had a record performance.

Eric, a 6-foot-11 sophomore from Nigeria, scored a career-high 19 points and the 21st-ranked Owls set a school record for shooting in a 78-56 victory over Rhode Island on Saturday.

The Owls (20-5, 8-2 Atlantic 10) shot 68.6 percent from the field, including making their first eight shots of the second half, and had their highest scoring game of the season. Rhode Island's point total was a season low.

Eric scored 17 points in the first half on 8-of-9 shooting and finished 9 of 10 from the field.

"I'm pleased for Mike," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "I thought we looked more for Mike today than we had in a while, and he came through. He did a great job inside today."

Eric was one of four Owls in double figures as Ryan Brooks added 18 points, while Lavoy Allen had 17 and Ramone Moore 12.

Temple's starters shot a combined 31 of 40 with Allen going 8 of 10, Brooks 7 of 8 and Moore 6 of 9. Many were layups or dunks, as the Owls scored 50 points in the paint and had 23 assists on their 35 field goals.

"I think we moved the ball very quickly and got their defense off-balance," Brooks said.

Delroy James and Akeem Richmond both had 11 points for Rhode Island (19-5, 7-4), which lost its second straight.

"I was just very disappointed with out performance today," Rhode Island coach Jim Baron said. "Temple did a great job of attacking the bucket, getting open shots and they did a great job shooting the basketball. It was just very disappointing on our part as far as our defense."

Temple led 43-23 at halftime after making 20 of 27 shots in the first half, when Rhode Island made just 1 of 9 3-pointers.

"It was a combination of a couple of things -- not getting back and picking up, and we just gave them too many easy buckets going to the basket," Baron said.

Temple had a week off after losing 71-54 to Richmond on Feb. 6.

"A long week of practice," said Eric, whose previous career high was 13 points. "I got in better shape. I had time to work on a lot of stuff, a lot of offensive sets with our big man coach, Coach (Shawn) Trice. I think the long week we had actually gave me a chance to work on my game."

Temple's previous best shooting effort was 68.4 percent -- also against Rhode Island on Feb. 21, 1973.

The Owls, who are 53-15 all-time against the Rams, swept the season series having won 68-64 at Rhode Island on Jan. 10.

Senior guard Keith Cothran, Rhode Island's leading scorer, did not start because of what Baron called a violation of team rules. Cothran entered the game at the first media timeout and finished with 10 points -- nearly six below his average -- in 26 minutes.

Temple sophomore guard Juan Fernandez played after missing the Richmond game with a head injury sustained at Fordham on Jan. 23. He finished with three points and six assists in 18 minutes.