As senior guard Devin Coleman and sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia took off their warmups and prepared to enter the game at the 17:44 mark in the second half, La Salle redshirt-junior guard Cleon Roberts toed the free-throw line about to bring his team within one.
After the duo entered the game, the Owls responded to a 7-0 Explorers’ run with eight-straight points of their own and outscored the Explorers by 12 over the final 17 minutes on their way to a 62-49 win Wednesday night at the Palestra.
“It was early in the second half,” Coleman said. “I think maybe guys just had to wake up a little. Coming out of halftime, you’re just sitting there. When you get back out there to warm up, it’s not really a good warmup. There’s not a lot of time, so I think the guys just had to get the juices flowing again and after that we were good for the rest of the game.”
Coach Fran Dunphy went with a younger lineup to start Wednesday’s game, starting freshmen Trey Lowe and Ernest Aflakpui.
Lowe earned his first start since the Owls’ 78-60 win against East Carolina on Jan. 8, where he was held scoreless in eight minutes of play.
In his second start of the year Wednesday, Lowe scored eight points on 3-of-7 shooting in 14 minutes. The freshman guard was two points off his career high, which he totaled in the Owls’ 78-63 win against Delaware State on Dec. 19, 2015.
“With Trey starting, he brings a lot of spark,” senior forward Jaylen Bond said. “He’s a great player for us on both ends of the court, so we feed off his energy.”
Aflakpui registered his third-consecutive start of the season, scoring six points in 15 minutes. Aflakpui has scored a combined 12 points and four rebounds in the Owls’ last two contests.
“I told them in the huddle before the game, ‘We’re going to pound them down inside,’” Brown said of his message to Lowe and Aflakpui before the game. “‘They only have one big in there. Make sure you crash the glass.’ We started off going inside, and they started doubling. But Ernest did a good job.”
Dunphy went with a veteran lineup for the rest of the second half after Enechionyia and Coleman replaced Aflakpui and Lowe at the 17:44 mark. The Owls were led by guards Josh Brown and Quenton DeCosey, who scored 24 combined points on 9-of-16 shooting.
DeCosey has led the team in scoring in seven of the team’s last 10 games, while Brown has totaled double-figure points in eight of the team’s last 10 games.
“We just have a great balance within our team,” Bond said. “We feel like whoever is out on the court is going to be their best.”
The Owls held La Salle’s leading scorer, redshirt-junior guard Jordan Price, to 11 points on 4-of-21 shooting from the field. Price has scored fewer than 15 points in two games this season.
Coming into Wednesday’s contest, Price was No. 14 in Division I in scoring, averaging 21.9 points per game on 45.2 percent shooting.
“I had the assignment,” Brown said. “I competed against him. I made sure I was contesting every shot and staying in front of him. But it’s pretty much a team effort. My teammates, they were all talking to me were help side was, where to send him, telling me where the screens were.”
After La Salle’s Cleon Roberts converted an and-one with 15:50 remaining to bring the Explorers within six points, 41-35, the Owls held La Salle without a field goal until Price converted a runner with 8:39 remaining in the game.
For the game, the Explorers shot 34 percent from the field, including 22.2 percent from 3-point range.
Of the six Explorers who appeared in Wednesday’s game, forward Tony Washington, who was 7-of-7 from the field, was the lone player to shoot better than 35 percent from the field.
Wednesday’s win came on a night when the Owls helped celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Big 5. During three separate timeouts in the second half, each school had a representative that were honored from a different decade. Temple’s honorees included Jay Norman and Mark Macon.
“I just felt a buzz as I was warming up,” Brown said. “It’s a historical arena. It was good to be around all the alumni … get to play, show the talent in front of them. It was just a great experience.”
Michael Guise can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Michael_Guise
Correction: In an online story that ran on Jan. 20, it was reported that Temple defeated La Salle 60-47. The actual score of the game was 62-49.