Temple holds on for win against Albany

Temple Men’s Basketball had just three scorers find success, but it was enough to pick up a 78-73 win against Albany at the Barclays Center Sunday night.

Hysier Miller's 28 points led the Owls to their sixth win of the season. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With just about two minutes remaining in Temple Men’s Basketball’s matchup with Albany, Temple guard Hysier Miller took command of the offense. He saw a gap in the lane and pulled up for a jumper that pushed the Owls’ lead to 10 points with little time remaining. Miller’s confidence was on full display, proving Sunday was a much-needed rebound game for the junior.

Miller finished with 28 points, and his 18 first-half points propelled the Owls, who struggled to shoot the ball all night, to a much-needed victory.

Temple (6-3, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) outlasted Albany (6-4, 0-0 America East Conference) 78-73 in the NABC Brooklyn Showcase at the Barclays Center Sunday night. Miller had been inefficient shooting the ball all season, but his performance tonight gave the Owls their second straight victory.

“I’m just proud of our guys’ resiliency,” said head coach Adam Fisher. “At the end of the game when things get chaotic, I think our guys stayed cool, calm and collected. I think we saw that. There was only one turnover towards the end of the game.”

The Owls struggled to find their rhythm in the first half but found support with their defense. They forced 15 turnovers in the half and turned those extra possessions into 14 points. Temple ended up forcing 17 total turnovers, including 10 steals, which turned into 20 points.

Fisher has emphasized the importance of intense defense all year, and Sunday was no different. The Great Danes started strong, hitting seven of their first 13 shots, but the pace quickly changed.

Temple held Albany to 41 percent shooting and 10 percent from three in the first half, as the Owls went into the locker room with a 37-29 lead.

Miller’s shooting had been erratic entering Sunday’s game, and his last game against Bloomsburg on Dec. 6 was a season-low. He shot 23 percent from the field against the Owls’ Division II opponent, scoring just seven points in 30 minutes of play. He seemed to regain his confidence Sunday, as he led all scorers, despite his cold streak in the second half.

“The game plan is getting uphill,” Miller said. “Some straight line drives early on. That’s what presented itself, so I just tried to take advantage.”

The rest of the Owls struggled to begin the second half, which helped Albany find its way back into the game. The Great Danes went on a 17-11 run and cut the deficit to just three points with about 11 minutes left in the contest. The Owls had no answer for guards Sebastian Thomas and Aaron Reddish, who scored 18 and nine points, respectively.

Inconsistent play in the second half has been a frequent occurrence for the Owls. Temple has blown multiple late second-half leads relying on last-second heroics to win games, in addition to  going long spurts without getting a basket to fall. Sunday, the Owls did not hit a field goal for the final two minutes of play.

While Miller fell back to earth in the second half, guard Jordan Riley stepped up for the Owls, continuing to fill in for injured guard Jahil White. Riley notched his fifth straight game with double-digit points, finishing with 19, with 13 coming in the second half.

“Jordan did a lot of good things,” Fisher said. “He’s playing hard, and he’s really stepped up these last few games”

Guard Zion Stanford also picked up the slack in the second half. The freshman only missed one shot and scored 16 points. Forward Sam Hofman helped Temple in the paint as he notched double-digit rebounds.

Eventually, Miller hit two quick shots to extend the lead back to 10 with two-and-a-half minutes remaining. Albany brought the game within four, but it was too little, too late, and Temple held on for the victory.

“That’s what I told the guys,” Miller said. “Let’s try and find a way to get a win as a unit. I had to find a way to get other guys involved, but tonight, I was lucky enough to make some shots.”

The Owls will have almost a week off between games before attempting to continue their momentum in Richmond, Virginia against Virginia Commonwealth (5-5, 0-0 Atlantic 10) on Dec. 16 at 2 p.m.

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