NEW YORK — Quinton Rose returned to the court and quickly made an impact in the second half.
The Temple University junior guard stole the ball from University of California, Berkeley freshman forward Jacobi Gordon and made a transition layup to extend the Owls’ lead to 15 points in their 76-59 win against Cal (1-3) on Tuesday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Temple led by as many as 14 points in the first half, and it took a 19-point lead, its largest, with 42.4 seconds left. With the victory, Temple (5-1) claimed third place in the Legends Classic tournament after losing to Virginia Commonwealth University on Monday.
“We talked about it in the locker room before the game how important this game is,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “Every game on our schedule is huge. But this is important because it’s a bounce back because it’s a bounce-back game, and you want to play your best basketball always. I thought we did some really good things tonight. Not perfect, but some good things.”
After Rose and senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. struggled on Monday against VCU — combining to shoot 6-for-29 from the field — they each turned in strong performances against Cal. Rose led all scorers with 23 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field. He shot 1-for-5 from 3-point range to break a three-game streak without a made 3-pointer.
Alston scored 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting and had a double-double with 10 assists. Alston recorded his second career double-double and tied his career-high in assists.
“We both struggled yesterday, and I don’t think that’ll happen to many more times,” Rose said. “So it was good to get a win.”
The pair connected for two alley-oops, one in each half. Alston assisted Rose’s layup that gave the Owls their largest lead.
“Last night, I felt like I could have been more of a facilitator since they were double-teaming me, I should have got my teammates involved more,” Alston said. “So today, I just wanted to make a concerted effort to get everybody involved and try to make up for my performance last night.”
Rose has room for improvement after his rebound performance, Dunphy said. Rose had five of Temple’s 11 turnovers.
“It’s nice to see [Rose] get as many points as he did tonight just because I think he did struggle a little bit shooting the ball last night,” Dunphy said. “He can play better though. That’s the interesting thing is I think he can play better as well.”
Rose and sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis made strong contributions to the Owls’ defense. Rose recorded four steals, while Pierre-Louis had three. Temple’s plus-four turnover advantage helped it score 16 points off turnovers and 14 points off fast breaks.
Cal scored the first two points of the game and never led after that point. The Owls went on 9-0 and 10-0 runs in the first half to build their 19-5 lead. Golden Bears cut their deficit to five points four times in the first half and trailed by just four points at halftime.
But Temple went on a 10-0 run to make the score 54-37 with 11:31 left in the game. Alston made two jump shots during the run, including a 2-pointer that gave Temple a 17-point lead, its largest at the time. The Golden Bears cut their deficit to single digits just once after Alston’s basket.
The Owls started the second half 7-for-8 from the field and shot 67.9 percent in the final 20 minutes. All of their first seven field goals were assisted. Temple recorded assists on 24 of its 31 field goals.
“Our ball movement was good,” Dunphy said. “I thought even against the zone, I thought we got into the middle of the zone. I thought we made some good passes out of there, and we had some good scoring opportunities that way. So it wasn’t that we were just shooting jumpers against the zone. I thought we were penetrating and playing well against it.”
Temple has a week off before its next game, a road contest on Nov. 27 against the University of Missouri. The game against Missouri starts a three-game road stretch that includes games against Big 5 rivals Saint Joseph’s and Villanova.
The Owls have to come out of the locker room focused during every game, Alston said.
“Last night, we came out unfocused and got down 19-2, I think,” he said. “So [if] that doesn’t happen, we win that game pretty easily, so just stay focused throughout every game.”