Alston Jr.’s career-night propels Temple to victory

Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. scored a career-high 30 points as Temple beat the University of Detroit Mercy 83-66 Friday night at the Liacouras Center.

Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. dribbles the ball during Temple's 83-67 win against the University of Detroit Mercy on Friday at the Liacouras Center | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Shizz Alston Jr. didn’t hesitate to shoot.

With 16 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the second half, he received a pass from sophomore forward De’Vondre Perry, shot a 3-pointer and fell to the ground to get the foul call. He converted the free throw to spark a 17-point run for Temple University.

A career-high 30 points from Alston led Temple (2-0) to an 83-67 win against the University of Detroit Mercy on Friday at the Liacouras Center.

Alston shot 7-of-12 from 3-point range. Alston’s performance marked the first time a Temple player scored 30 points in a game since former guard Quenton DeCosey on Jan. 31, 2016, against South Florida.

“First game, I was a little too anxious,” said Alston, who shot 3-for-13 from the field in the Owls’ 75-67 against La Salle on Tuesday. “This game I decided to take my time and let the game come to me.”

For the second game in a row, the Owls had a slow start. Temple trailed 41-37 at halftime despite making 44.1 percent of its shots in the first half.

Detroit Mercy started the game on a 13-2 run. Nine of those points came from freshman guard Antoine Davis.

The Owls’ defense had trouble stopping Davis and senior guard Josh McFolley in the first half. Davis scored 19 points, while McFolley recorded 10 points. Davis finished the game with 30 points.

“[Davis] was hitting tough shots early,” junior guard Quinton Rose said. “It was hard to contain him.”

In the second half, however, the Owls held Davis to 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

Detroit Mercy shot 34.8 percent in the second half compared to 58.6 percent in the first half. The Titans were just 2-for-10 from 3-point range in the second half compared to 7-for-15 in the first.

Temple outscored Detroit Mercy 46-26 in the final 20 minutes.

“I think we’re getting better at putting two halves together,” junior guard Alani Moore II said. “So far, the first half has been a little slow. I’ve just been making sure I harp on everybody, even the starters, and making sure they’re getting everything done. We can’t get off to slow starts going forward. We got to pick everything up and put a full game together.”

Detroit Mercy does not have one player on its roster taller than 6 feet, 9 inches, while Temple has three –– senior center Ernest Aflakpui, junior center Damion Moore and sophomore forward Justyn Hamilton.

This allowed Temple to grab 16 offensive rebounds to Detroit Mercy’s seven. The Owls outrebounded the Titans, 38-27.

Temple made 14 free throws, while Detroit Mercy made just eight. Alston made all five of his free throw attempts, and Rose made three free throws and missed just one. Perry was 4-of-6 from the free throw line.

Coach Fran Dunphy was pleased with the Owls’ rebounding advantage, he said, but their 17 turnovers did not allow his team to be efficient on offense.

Temple needs to cut down on its turnovers if the team is to be successful this year, he added. The Owls committed 32 turnovers in the first two games. Last season, they averaged 10.8 turnovers per game.

The Owls won the rebound battle in their first two games. They must continue to do that and cut down on turnovers if they want to beat their next opponent, the University of Georgia, on Tuesday, Rose said.

Temple must also get out to a “faster” start than it did in its first two games or it will be hard to beat Georgia, Moore II said.

Tuesday will be a rematch of Georgia’s 84-66 win against Temple on Dec. 22, 2017. In that game, Georgia secured 18 more rebounds than Temple.

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