Temple played catch up against Tulane all night.
After redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown sunk a mid-range jumper in the first minute, the Owls didn’t sniff the lead the rest of the game.
Temple (7-5, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) lost to Tulane (10-3, 1-0 The American), 85-75, at the Liacouras Center on Thursday in its league opener.
The Owls, who have had double-digit turnovers in all but two games this season, committed 12 turnovers, which Tulane turned into 21 points.
“We turned it way too many times,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “That certainly hurt us.”
“We need to be more disciplined with it,” he added. “We just threw a couple of passes that we can’t throw. We have to be more careful about it.”
Junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. said the Owls got off to hot starts earlier in the season against teams like Clemson University at the Charleston Classic. After Temple took a 2-0 lead with 19 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first half, however, the Green Wave went on a 9-0 run that ended with junior guard Melvin Frazier’s layup.
“We gotta get back to picking up the defense and starting out early,” Alston said. “Out at Charleston, we started off games early. As of late, we’ve been letting teams go up 10, 11 in the first half and trying to fight back. And that’s what we did today.”
Temple fought its way back against the Green Wave late in the second half with help from sophomore guard Quinton Rose. Twelve of Rose’s 17 points came in the second half. Alston and Rose each led Temple in points with 17 apiece.
With 1:10 left in the second half, Rose beat sophomore guard Ray Ona Embo to the basket, made the layup and got fouled. He then made the free throw to cut Tulane’s lead to four points, 77-73.
Tulane called a timeout after the free throw, and Temple responded with full-court pressure.
Freshman guard Caleb Daniels made a bounce pass to the center of the court out of the inbounds that was stolen by sophomore guard Alani Moore II. Daniels redeemed himself and rejected Moore on his layup attempt with 1:05 remaining in the contest.
“We had a chance to get that loose ball after the block was made as well, but we didn’t come up with that,” Dunphy said.
When freshman forward De’Vondre Perry picked up his second foul midway through the first half, freshman guard Nate Pierre-Louis subbed in a couple of minutes later and gave the Owls a defensive boost.
Pierre-Louis had two steals on Temple’s 9-0 run toward the end of the first half. He forced the first turnover on redshirt-junior guard Jordan Cornish at the top of the key. Pierre-Louis finished on a layup in transition after Moore lobbed a pass down the floor.
After Alston missed a 3-pointer, Pierre-Louis caused Cornish to turn the ball over again. Pierre-Louis intercepted his outlet pass and found Rose, who scored on a mid-range jumper to cut Temple’s deficit to four points, 31-27.
Pierre-Louis played during the final stretch of the game. He finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and three steals in 22 minutes, all of which are career-highs.
Prior to Thursday’s game against Tulane, Pierre-Louis’ career-high was seven minutes during Temple’s 76-60 victory against the University of South Carolina on Nov. 30. Despite the lack of minutes through 12 games this season, Pierre-Louis said he hasn’t been upset with playing time.
“It’s never frustrating for me,” Pierre-Louis said. “I just put the work in whatever happens, happens.”
Temple will play its first conference road game on Saturday against Houston (11-2, 1-0 American Athletic Conference).