ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Despite trailing by seven points with two minutes, 46 seconds left in overtime, Temple University did not panic, sophomore forward JP Moorman II said.
Junior guard Quinton Rose’s steal and fast-break dunk with less than five seconds left gave Temple (9-2) a 77-75 win against Davidson College (8-2) on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in the Boardwalk Classic. After falling behind by seven points, Temple made four of its next five shots.
By beating Davidson, the Owls earned a win against a team in the top 40 of the Ratings Percentage Index, according to TeamRankings.com.
“Coach [Fran] Dunphy told us to treat this like an NCAA Tournament first-round game,” senior guard Shizz Alston Jr. said. “It finished like an NCAA Tournament game.”
With 2:23 left, sophomore forward De’Vondre Perry hit a 3-pointer to cut the Owls’ deficit to four points. After two made free throws by Davidson sophomore guard Carter Collins, Rose hit a 3-point shot off the backboard to put the Owls within three points.
With 32 seconds remaining, Alston tied the game at 75. Rose stole the ball and drove down the court for the game-winning basket on the next possession.
Wildcats redshirt-junior guard KiShawn Pritchett tried to get the ball to redshirt-freshman guard Luke Frampton. Rose read the pass right away, stole the ball and empathetically dunked it on a fast break to secure the Owls’ victory.
“I just read the play basically,” Rose said. “[Pritchett] threw it right to me.”
Alston led Temple with 24 points and a career-high 11 assists, earning him the recognition of the game’s MVP.
Saturday’s win was Temple’s biggest since it upset nationally ranked Wichita State on Feb. 19 at the Liacouras Center, Alston said.
“This team, we got a lot of fun, we got a lot of grit,” Alston added. “I just knew that if we hit one shot, we’re gonna be OK because we’d get stops.”
Temple trailed at halftime each of its previous four games. Davidson led 35-27 after 20 minutes on Saturday.
The Owls made just four of their last 20 attempts in the first half after starting the game 7-of-11 from the field. Davidson went 7-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half. Frampton shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range and scored 14 of his team-high 24 points in the first half.
Temple trailed by seven points early in the first half before baskets by Moorman, Rose and Alston got the Owls right back into the game as part of a 10-2 run.
Rose and Alston hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to give the Owls a 42-39 lead with 14:41 remaining. They gave Temple its first lead since it led 17-16 with 11:41 remaining in the first half.
On back-to-back possessions in the second half, Moorman provided a spark of momentum with two big dunks.
A lineup of Perry, Rose, Moorman, Alston and sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis led Temple in minutes because senior center Ernest Aflakpui got in foul trouble early and played a season-low 15 minutes.
The small-ball lineup allowed the Owls to keep up with the pace of Davidson, which often used the majority of the 30-second shot clock to spread the ball out and try and tire out the Owls. An advantage of the smaller lineup is the ability each player has to play defense and switch on screens, Moorman said.
Davidson was a tough team to guard, Alston said, because it kept moving and switching offensively. After the game, Alston said he was the most tired he had ever been following a college contest.
Because Davidson’s offense is complicated, it helps shooters, like former Davidson guard and current Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, get open shots, Moorman said.
“Teams mess up on switches and what not,” Moorman added. “It was difficult guarding it, but we communicated pretty well and we got the job done.”
The Owls have a week off before they travel to play Drexel (5-5) at The Palestra on Dec. 22. It will be Dunphy’s last game at The Palestra, which is Penn’s home arena. Dunphy coached Penn from 1989-2006.