Strong first-half lifts men’s basketball to fourth straight win

Temple shot 11-of-22 from beyond the arc to secure an 85-74 victory against East Carolina on Wednesday night.

Junior guard Quinton Rose passes the ball during Temple's 82-80 overtime win against South Florida on Jan. 12 at the Liacouras Center. | JUSTIN OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University never trailed East Carolina (8-9, 1-4 American Athletic Conference) on Wednesday night at Williams Arena in Greenville, North Carolina.

The Owls led by as many as 19 points with 13:44 left in the first half and were up 37-23 heading into the break. The Pirates fought back to cut the lead to one with 14:33 remaining in the second half on a tip-in from sophomore guard Shawn Williams.

Still, the Owls held onto their lead led by freshman forward Jayden Gardner’s 27 points. And ECU’s comeback efforts fell just short, falling to the Owls, 85-74.

Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. led all Temple scorers with 23 points. Alston hit another career milestone in his senior year, eclipsing 200 career 3-pointers. Alston was 7-of-10 from beyond the arc, tying a career-high with seven 3-pointers.

Temple (14-3, 4-1 The American) won its fourth conference game of the season to improve to 5-2 on the road this season.

With a fast start, Temple outscored ECU by 15 in the first half, shooting 40 percent from the field and from beyond the arc, while the Pirates just shot 25 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from 3-point range in the opening half.

The Pirates outscored the Owls in the second-half 51-48, but were unable to overcome the first-half deficit. ECU was much better from the field in the second-half connecting on 20-of-32 shots, good enough for a 62.5 field goal percentage.

Led by Gardner’s 27 and sophomore guard K.J. Davis’ 15 points, the Pirates were able to get themselves right back into the game. Out Rebounding Temple 18-10, thanks to Gardner’s and redshirt junior forward Seth Leday six rebounds apiece.

Junior guard Quinton Rose contributed 19 points on 6-of-16 shooting, while sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis added 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Senior center Ernest Aflakpui had 12 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double this season for the Owls.

Temple will look to continue its four-game win streak as they host Penn (10-6, Big-5 2-0) on Saturday at the Liacouras Center. With a win, Temple could secure a share of the Big-5 title in Fran Dunphy’s last ever Big-5 contest.

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