Temple men’s basketball improves to 4-0

The Owls benefitted from Loyola University Maryland’s 22 turnovers in their 81-67 win on Friday at the Liacouras Center.

Sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis scores following one of Loyola University Maryland's 22 turnovers during Temple's 81-67 win on Friday night at the Liacouras Center. | JUSTIN OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Nate Pierre-Louis stole the ball from Loyola University Maryland junior guard Chuck Champion under the Temple basket with 14 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first half and took off in transition.

The sophomore guard dunked it for two of his 16 points. The Greyhounds (1-3) committed 22 turnovers in their 81-67 loss to the Owls (4-0) on Friday night at the Liacouras Center.

For the second consecutive game, Temple University forced more than 20 turnovers. Pierre-Louis, senior guard Shizz Alston Jr., junior guard Quinton Rose and sophomore forward De’Vondre Perry each recorded two steals.

“We hope we can be a solid team defensively and we can turn some teams over,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “The one thing that Nate does is he makes it difficult on point guards. He puts so much heat on them, and he gives you the sense that we are we are turning people over more than we probably are.”

Temple is off to its first 4-0 start since the 2012-13 season, which ended with a second-round NCAA Tournament loss.

Though it is early in the season, Rose said the team has already jelled together well.

“Game after game we get closer and closer,” Rose said. “I think we are buying in defensively and that’s the most important thing.”

Rose scored 14 points on 7-of-16 shooting, and he recorded a career-high six assists on the night.

Alston led all scorers with 20 points, shooting 4-of-7 from 3-point range. Alston added four assists, three blocks and two steals.

Temple started slowly against La Salle and the University of Detroit Mercy in its first two games, but the team’s defensive effort helped it avoid a similar start against Loyola Maryland, Dunphy said.

The Owls started the game on a 16-0 run and never trailed against the Greyhounds. Loyola Maryland’s 12 first-half turnovers helped Temple take eight more field-goal attempts than the Greyhounds.

“I think we always have the same motivation to score and get stops but it was just one of those games we made shots early,” Dunphy said. “ I thought our defense was good early and I thought they settled in and made some really good adjustments to what we were doing.”

After Temple led by as many as 16 points, the teams went into halftime with the score at 45-33. The Greyhounds cut their deficit to nine points less than two minutes into the second half, but Temple put them away later in the half.

Alston made a 3-pointer with 4:33 left to give Temple a 72-56 lead. Then, Pierre-Louis stole the ball and Rose dunked to give Temple an 18-point lead, its largest of the game.

“We kind of let down after 19-3,” Alston said. “We kind of took out foot off the gas, so we gotta work on that. We gotta keep our foot on the gas.”

After the University of Georgia held him scoreless in Temple’s 81-77 win on Tuesday night, senior center Ernest Aflakpui scored 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting.

After the game, Dunphy said he talked to Aflakpui about his defense because Greyhounds sophomore forward Brent Holcombe shot 7-for-11 from the field and scored 17 points. Holcombe also grabbed five offensive rebounds.

Temple was outrebounded for the second game in a row. Sophomore forward J.P. Moorman II had six rebounds, while Aflakpui added five of his own.

After its four-game homestand, Temple will play two neutral-site games in Brooklyn, New York, in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center. The Owls will face Virginia Commonwealth University on Monday.

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