With his team down by one point on the verge of being upset on Thanksgiving, Florida State University coach Leonard Hamilton called timeout with 4.6 seconds left to draw up one final play.
Freshman forward Jonathan Isaac caught freshman guard Trent Forrest’s in-bounds pass, but couldn’t finish the layup. Temple freshman guard Quinton Rose secured the rebound and got fouled with 1.5 seconds left, causing senior forward Mark Williams to slap the floor near the Owls’ bench in celebration.
Rose sunk the two free throws on the other end to score the last of his game-high 26 points, and a three-quarter court heave by Seminoles’ junior guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes hit the front of the rim to solidify the Owls’ 89-86 win at the Barclays Center in Thursday’s Preseason National Invitation Tournament game.
By defeating Florida State, ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press Top 25, Temple has now beaten a ranked team 10 years in a row. Tomorrow at 3 p.m.,Temple will play the winner of the game between the University of Illinois and the University of West Virginia, which is ranked No. 19.
“I hope it does a lot for us but no matter what happens we’re going to face a very good basketball team tomorrow in less than 24 hours and we need to be ready to go,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “It’s going to be a tough, tough task for us but we’ll see.”
Florida State brought the ball up the floor with 19 seconds left down by one. Sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. tied-up Seminoles’ sophomore guard Dwayne Bacon, but the possession arrow favored Florida State, giving them the opportunity in the final five seconds.
The Seminoles took a 10-point lead into halftime and led by as much as 18 points in the second half. Isaac got a tip-in off a missed layup by freshman guard C.J. Walker then stole Rose’s in-bounds pass and got another layup to make it 60-42 with 13 minutes, 29 seconds left.
With Florida State’s bench hyped up and a small group of Seminole fans doing their tomahawk chop, Temple immediately called timeout.
“Me and [Rose] brought everybody together and just told us, ‘Let’s go, It’s time to pick it up,’” Alston said of the timeout. “‘We’re on the big stage. We’re not going out like this down 18 points. We’re going to fight back and win this game.’”
“I think if he doesn’t throw the ball away, we don’t probably win the game,” Dunphy said. “That’s how crazy life is in this world that we live in. …We just started to make every shot we took it looked like.”
Temple went on a 15-2 run from the 9:11-mark to the 6:51-mark to go from a 12-point deficit to a one-point lead. The Owls had to go to a smaller lineup at the 8:42-mark when sophomore center Ernest Aflakpui committed his fourth foul and freshman guard Alani Moore II checked into the game for him.
Moore had a steal and a 3-pointer in that stretch. Alston had 11 points, a steal and an assist on the run, which included two 3-pointers. Junior forward Obi Enechionyia finished with eight rebounds and 16 points, 11 of which came in the second half.
Temple shot 53.1 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from 3-point range to outscore Florida State 58-45 in the half.
“You just got to give them credit,” Hamilton said. “They did what they had to do to win. This is an experienced team, experienced coach. I just thought they outplayed us on the boards and they executed and made tough shots.”
“In college basketball, you always run into a team like this, that for whatever reason, they get on a real hot shooting streak,” he added.
Bacon made back-to-back baskets after a timeout with 6:51 left to give Florida State a brief lead. A 3-pointer by Moore with 4:50 left gave Temple a two-point lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Bacon scored 18 of his team-high 22 points in the second half.
Temple struggled in the paint early, due to the presence of Isaac, who is six feet, 10 inches tall, and 7-foot-1-inch graduate center Michael Ojo. Florida State blocked four shots in the first half, but the Owls persisted inside.
In the final minute of the first half, Rose drove in the paint but got blocked by Forrest. On the next play, he drove in again and got rewarded with a trip to the free throw line.
On the other end of the floor, Florida State shot 51.7 percent from the field in the first half, led by Rathan-Mayes’ 11 points. Isaac scored seven of his 19 points in the first 20 minutes. The Seminoles entered play coming off of back-to-back 100-point games.
“Up and down the line they’re talented,” Dunphy said. “They’re long and they’re deep. It’s a very formidable group. We were down 18 because of how good they are.”
Evan Easterling can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling.