2003 NIT 2003 NIT

Updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 11:13 PM EST
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Temple 68, Drexel 59
Drexel Dragons
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Temple Owls
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PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Temple might not want to wait another nine years before playing Drexel again.

In the Philadelphia schools' first meeting since 1994, the Owls grabbed the lead with an early second-half run, then cruised to a 68-59 win in the opening round of the National Invitation Tournament.

After scoring the last six points of the first half to claw within 30-29, Temple (16-15) scored the first 11 points after intermission. David Hawkins capped the run with a free throw 4:39 into the second half.

"We got off to such a bad start (in the second half)," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "They began to wear us down."

Once they grabbed the advantage, the Owls never looked back, leading by at least seven points the rest of the way.

"We left the (first) half with good momentum," Temple forward Alex Wesby said. "We came out (after halftime) with a little more focus and were more aggressive."

Maurice Collins scored five of his 11 points during the decisivie run and Wesby finished with 20 to lead the Owls.

Drexel (19-12) took a 15-9 lead with 10:02 left in the first half when Robert Battle capped a 9-0 run with a pair of free throws. Battle, the Dragons' leading scorer, had six points in the first half but only three after it.

Kennell Sanchez scored 16 points and Tim Whitworth 13 for the Dragons, who were coming off a loss to UNC Wilmington in the Colonial Athletic championship game.

Temple, which has won eight of its last 10 games, will meet Boston College in the first round.

"I know Troy Bell is a great leader," Temple coach John Chaney said of Boston College's star guard. "I (went) against the coach (Al Skinner) for many years at Rhode Island."

Brian Polk added 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench for Temple.

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