Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. stole the ball and connected with Nate Pierre-Louis on an alley-oop to give Temple University a 15-point, second-half lead, tying its largest of the game.
The dunk with five minutes left capped the sophomore guard’s season-high 22 point performance in the Owls’ 82-64 win against Drexel (6-7) on Saturday at the Palestra.
Alston’s steal was the team’s eighth of the game as Temple (10-2) forced 17 turnovers. Pierre-Louis’s alley-oop dunk was Temple’s 27th point off a Drexel turnover.
‘”Our turnovers in the first half were from pressure,” Drexel coach Zach Spiker said. “Our turnovers in the second half were from fatigue and maybe the build-up of pressure.”
Three minutes before Pierre-Louis’ dunk, Drexel went on a 7-0 run to cut Temple’s lead to six points.
Coach Fran Dunphy thought about taking a timeout to stop the Dragons’ momentum. Instead, Alston made an important 3-point shot from the corner right in front of Temple’s bench to end the Owls’ 2:59 scoring drought and Drexel’s run.
Alston’s basket sparked Temple to a 7-0 run of its own to put the game out of reach.
“We felt a little more comfortable, not greatly comfortable, but a little more,” Dunphy said. “[Alston is] making big shots, and I think that his teammates understand that they got to go to him because mostly he makes great decisions.”
In his past three games, Alston is averaging 26.6 points per game on 53.1 percent shooting from the field and 61.5 percent from 3-point range. He finished Saturday’s game with a team-high 25 points and three steals. Temple is 9-0 when Alston or junior guard Quinton Rose lead the team in points.
Rose was the Owls’ third-leading scorer with 14 points against Drexel. With a layup 9:04 into Saturday’s game, Rose recorded his 1,000th career point.
Temple earned a win in its second to last nonconference game. The Owls will play American Athletic Conference opponents to close the season with the exception of their Jan. 19 matchup against Penn.
Winning 10 of 12 games to begin the season is good, Dunphy said, but Temple still needs to improve its 3-point shooting and defense before its first conference game on Jan. 2. Temple will travel to Orlando, Florida, to play Central Florida (10-2) to begin conference play.
The Owls made 7-of-23 3-point attempts on Saturday. Entering the game, they ranked 312th out of 351 Division I teams with a 29.6 3-point shooting percentage.
Rose, who missed all four of his 3-point attempts on Saturday, has the lowest 3-point percentage among Temple players who’ve attempted 16 or more shots from beyond the arc. Rose is shooting 17 percent from 3-point range this season.
Alston believes Rose is a good shooter and will start making shots at a higher rate soon.
“We put some wins together but our play has been subpar,” Alston said. “We haven’t played our best basketball yet, which is a good thing for us is because we are 10-2. If you look at our numbers, our numbers aren’t as good as they could be.”