Freshman forward J.P. Moorman II was an unlikely hero. In the past four games, Moorman played an average of just more four minutes per game before Wednesday night against Tulsa.
As the Owls trailed by one with 35 seconds left, Moorman set up the game-winner when he muscled down a rebound off sophomore guard Quinton Rose’s missed three. Moorman quickly passed the ball out to redshirt-senior guard Josh Brown, who scored a layup.
In the final 28 seconds, Tulsa couldn’t get a shot off and the Owls (9-9, 2-5 American Athletic Conference) won, 59-58, at the Liacouras Center.
“Just a phenomenal rebound by J.P. Moorman,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “Just worked his butt off and then his pass to Josh, and Josh had enough sense to go cut it to the rim and made a great finish on the play. But that was all a product of J.P. Moorman just making a great play. I’m very proud of him tonight.”
Moorman played a personal-best 22 minutes and added three points and three assists. He also set personal records and led the Owls with seven rebounds and four steals.
Four steals is the most by any Owl in a single game so far this season.
“He’s earned this,” Dunphy said. “I needed to get him more minutes as the year has unfolded. Over the last couple of weeks, he’s earning them and he earned it today. He was terrific.”
While Moorman was a new face in the end-of-game heroics, Brown was not. Brown also shot the game-winner against Southern Methodist on Jan. 10.
“Sometimes, I’m in the right place at the right time,” Brown said. “My teammates trust in me, the coaching staff trusts in me and I’m gaining confidence. It’s just a confidence that you’ve got to have, and my teammates definitely helped me with that.”
Brown started the night off slowly, shooting 0-for-3 from the field on three 3-point attempts in the first half. By the end of the game, Brown scored eight points, picked up four rebounds and recorded six assists.
Senior forward Obi Enechionyia also had a productive second half. He scored all of his 15 points in the last 20 minutes of the game. He hit two of his four 3-pointers in the final five minutes. Enechionyia also tallied three blocks and a steal.
The Owls had 11 steals, including one in the final two seconds by junior guard Shizz Alston Jr. that solidified Temple’s victory. Tulsa had possession with 28 seconds left after Brown’s go-ahead basket, but the Owls still had four fouls to give before putting the Golden Hurricane in the bonus.
“At the end, they only had 3.3 seconds to go, so they couldn’t really make anything of that in that little time,” Enechionyia said. “It worked out for us, and we did a good job of using those fouls at the right time.”
— Sydney Schaefer (@sydneydschaefer) January 18, 2018
Temple is hoping that Wednesday will be the start of a winning streak. The team is coming off a stretch of six losses in its past seven games. Temple is 10th of 12 teams in The American. Next, the Owls take on Big 5 opponent Penn at the Palestra at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The game is the Owls’ last nonconference battle.
“We’ve got to keep plugging away,” Dunphy said. “Shizz said something the other day like, ‘Let’s go 13-0 here.’ And that’s the spirit I’m looking for. We can’t do it without winning a game like tonight. We can’t do it without finding a way to win at the Palestra on Saturday. It’s hard, but what a thrill it is to be involved in playing college basketball.”