NEW YORK – Through the first four games, freshman guard Nate Pierre-Louis hadn’t taken off his warmup to get on the court yet.
Before Tuesday’s practice, coach Fran Dunphy said he deserved to play. Pierre-Louis got his chance on Thursday.
In front of an announced crowd of 6,081 people at Madison Square Garden, just New Jersey Transit train ride away from his home in Plainfield, New Jersey, Pierre-Louis played his first college minutes.
He finished with three points, three rebounds and one assist in seven minutes in the Owls’ 76-60 win against the University of South Carolina.
“[Redshirt-senior guard] Josh [Brown} went down with I think it was a contusion,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “He had banged knees with somebody. So our trainer said, ‘Let’s hold him out for a little bit.’ And then it was just the right time, the right opportunity and I thought Nate did a really good job, to be honest with you. I thought he was poised as soon as he got in the game. He didn’t get crazed or anything, and I thought he did a really good job.”
— Tom Ignudo (@TomIgnudo) December 1, 2017
Pierre-Louis made his first appearance with five minutes, 27 seconds left in the first half. He grabbed a defensive rebound 10 seconds later. Then on his first offensive possession, he fought for an offensive rebound. The officials called a held ball, and possession stayed with Temple.
Senior forward Obi Enechionyia’s steal on the defensive end led to a transition opportunity for Pierre-Louis. He drove hard to the rim, got fouled and split his two free-throw attempts.
After Gamecocks sophomore forward Maik Kotsar made back-to-back 3-pointers to cut his team’s deficit to 10 with one minute left, Enechionyia made a 3-pointer assisted by Pierre-Louis to stop the short run.
Redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown, who started the game, subbed in for Pierre-Louis with 21 seconds left and hit a buzzer-beating jumper to close the first half.
Pierre-Louis checked back into the game with 1:32 left in the second half as the Owls held a 23-point lead. Forward Justyn Hamilton also checked into the game to make his college debut.
Sophomore guard Quinton Rose said Pierre-Louis made his mark on the defensive end.
“I knew what to expect to him,” Rose said. “He goes out and he gives his all every time he’s on the court. So, he’s like that in practice. It was no surprise when he was like that in the game.”