Junior guard Nate Pierre-Louis found junior forward J.P. Moorman II for a cut to put Temple University men’s basketball up by three points with 57 seconds left in the second overtime period.
Moorman’s basket put Temple (14-12, 6-7 The American Athletic Conference) ahead for good as it beat Connecticut (14-12, 5-8 The AAC) 93-89 Thursday night at the Liacouras Center.
“We had some opportunities to open the game up to extend our lead but we get sloppy at segments of the game and it just cost us,” coach Aaron McKie said. “When we get sloppy, it gives the other team live ball turnovers where they run down and they score. Situations like that keep games close.”
The Huskies initially went up 84-80 after a pair of baskets from junior forward Isaiah Whaley. After Whaley’s two baskets, the Owls outscored the Huskies 13-5.
Whaley scored a season-high 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field. Whaley grabbed 14 rebounds to finish with a double-double and recorded two blocks.
“He’s really become an invaluable player for us as a big four and also as a five man,” Connecticut coach Dan Hurley said. “He’s a real asset for us moving forward. He kept us in the game.”
During the first overtime, Temple went up 77-73 after a jumper from senior guard Quinton Rose. After Rose’s jumper, the Huskies scored seven unanswered points to go up 80-77. Then, redshirt-junior guard Monty Scott made a three from the top of the key to force double overtime. Scott finished with a season-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field in 40 minutes off the bench. Scott also recorded four rebounds and two steals.
“I think I’m kind of used to taking tough shots,” Scott said. “Being at Kennesaw, I had to take a lot of contested shots. I mean it was a hard shot to make, but I was confident enough to put it down.”
With two minutes left in regulation, Rose made a jumper to put the Owls up 67-62. The Huskies then went on a 7-2 run during the last two minutes to force overtime. The Owls could have put the Huskies away in regulation but Scott missed the front end of a one-and-one with 48 seconds left. Rose also missed both of his free throws with 17 seconds left.
Rose scored 15 points but only made three shots from the field on 15 attempts. Rose also missed four free throws and committed six turnovers. Rose scored nine of his points from the free-throw line.
“[Rose] didn’t have a great job from the field, but he got to the free throw line a lot of times,” McKie said. “We got to the free throw line 35 times. If we could do that, that helps take some of the focus away from shot-making where we can get in there and get some layups, get some fouls and get to the free-throw line, so those type of things help.”
Along with Scott, Pierre-Louis stepped up in Rose’s place. Pierre-Louis recorded a double-double with 23 points and 14 rebounds, both season highs. Pierre-Louis also finished with five assists.
“Sometimes in the season you could not go through your routine, but I’m doing the same thing every day,” Pierre-Louis said. “It’s working so I’m not gonna stop doing it.”
Huskies senior guard Christian Vital led the team with 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field. Vital also recorded eight rebounds and three steals.
Freshman guard James Bouknight added 16 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-17 shooting from the field. Freshman guard Jalen Gaffney contributed with 12 points. Gaffney finished with nine assists, one short of a double-double.
Vital, Whaley, Bouknight and Gaffney combined for 67 of the Huskies’ points.
“We battled, but we just didn’t play well enough nor do we have enough to be who we want to be right now, but from a heart standpoint, those guys have been awesome and they battled their tail off,” Hurley said.
Temple will next go on the road to East Carolina (10-17, 4-10 The AAC) Sunday at noon. Temple previously beat East Carolina 76-64 on Feb. 1 at the Liacouras Center.