Temple men’s basketball shows ‘grit’ in Big 5 win

The Owls went on a nine-point run with four minutes remaining to close out their 77-70 victory against Saint Joseph’s on Saturday at Hagan Arena.

Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. (middle) drives the lane during Temple's 77-70 win against Saint Joseph's on Saturday at Hagan Arena. | MICHAEL ZINGRONE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With just more than four minutes remaining, junior guard Alani Moore II hit a corner 3-pointer to spark a nine-point Temple University run.

The shot broke the Owls’ tie with Saint Joseph’s and gave them the lead for good in their 77-70 Big 5 win.

Senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. capped the 9-0 run with a step-back 3-pointer in the face of Saint Joseph’s (4-4, 0-1 Big 5) redshirt-junior guard Lamarr Kimble to put the Owls (7-1, 2-0 Big 5) up 69-60 with two minutes, 15 seconds remaining to silence the Hagan Arena crowd.

After an underwhelming first half for the Owls (7-1, 2-0 Big 5), they trailed 41-33 going into the break. Temple shot 2-for-14 from beyond the arc and committed 11 fouls in the first half, with their big men, senior center Ernest Aflakpui and junior center Damion Moore picking up two fouls apiece.

“I was shocked that we were only down eight at the end of the first half,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “We were more like [a] down 18-point team at that point.”

In the second half, the Owls outscored the Hawks 44-29, led by a strong defensive effort. Temple held the Hawks to 11-for-30 from the field and 2-for-11 from beyond the arc in the second half.

The Owls’ leading scorers, Alston and junior guard Quinton Rose, scored 15 points apiece. The pair also combined for 11 assists.

For the second straight game, secondary scoring boosted Temple to victory. In the Owls’ 79-77 road win against the University of Missouri on Tuesday, Rose and Alston accounted for just 33 points.

Moore II, sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis and sophomore forwards J.P. Moorman II and De’Vondre Perry combined for 25 points in the second half.

“One of our goals was to…not have the game decided by the other guys,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “If Alston and Rose were gonna get 45 or 50, then so be it. When you look at it and they have 24 points off their bench, that was where we felt we could guard.”

“We went nine deep today with [sophomore forward] Justyn Hamilton giving us good minutes, and nine guys is a nice number,” Dunphy said. “Hopefully, we are getting better as a team and getting deeper as a team as well.”

The Owls’ foul trouble in the first half led to Hamilton getting his most significant minutes of the season. He scored six points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.

The Owls outrebounded St Joseph’s 44-35 for the game. Pierre-Louis tied his career-high with 13 rebounds.

Temple’s next game is also a Big 5 road matchup. On Wednesday, the Owls will face Villanova, which is undefeated in Big 5 play dating back to a Dec. 5, 2012, loss to Temple.

Temple went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line in the last 1:05 to close out its win against Saint Joseph’s. Last year’s team lost a lot of close games like Saturday’s, Alston said.

“This shows a lot about our growth and how we are growing up,” he added.

“Hopefully, it shows that we have some grit,” Dunphy added. “It’s a toughness that hopefully we are gathering and can use as we go out the rest of the season, but I’m hoping that we are getting to being a pretty tough basketball team.”

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