Temple men’s basketball drops first conference game to UCF

Temple lost their first conference game of the season, 78-73, to Central Florida on Wednesday night in Orlando.

Sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis attempts a jump shot during the Owls' 82-64 win against Drexel on Dec. 22, 2018 at the Palestra. | JUSTIN OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University men’s basketball struggled to stop Central Florida’s B.J. Taylor and Tacko Fall on Wednesday.

The redshirt-senior guard and senior center combined for 40 points on 14-of-21 shooting in UCF’s 78-73 win against Temple in Orlando, Florida, to open American Athletic Conference play. The Knights (11-2, 1-0 The American) shot 60.4 percent from the field, which is the highest percentage given up by Temple in any game this season.

Temple (10-3, 0-1 The American) shot a season high 48.1 percent on 3-point shots, but the Owls couldn’t overcome their struggles on defense.

The Owls started slowly, making just 35.7 percent of their first-half shots while UCF shot 61.5 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Despite Temple’s struggles from the field at-large in the first half, it shot 6-for-13 from 3-point range. Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. made three shots from beyond the arc in the first half.

Led by junior guard Quinton Rose, Temple picked up its shooting in the second half. Rose had seven points at halftime, but he finished the game with 17 points, four assists and four rebounds.

Rose hit a deep 3-pointer with 16 minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the second half to cut UCF’s lead to five points. Rose’s three sparked an 8-3 run that the Owls used to pull within three points.

UCF took a 13-point lead with 8:41 remaining on a layup by Taylor. Temple mounted another comeback with a 13-6 run to cut its deficit to three, but the Owls never came closer to tying the game or taking the lead.  

During the 13-6 run, sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis hit two 3-point shots. Pierre-Louis led the Owls in scoring with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Temple will continue American Conference with a road game against Wichita State (7-6, 0-1 The American) on Sunday.   

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