Temple Owls

Obi Enechionyia lifts Temple to Charleston Classic final

uspresswire-temple-obi-enechionyia.jpg
USA Today Images

Obi Enechionyia lifts Temple to Charleston Classic final

BOX SCORE

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Obi Enechionyia felt Temple was itching to get going at the Charleston Classic. That been evident in its run to the tournament finals.

Enechionyia had 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Owls into the tournament title game with an 88-74 victory over the Tigers. Temple's season-opening game was a win over Old Dominion here Thursday as they eased into a long starting stretch that doesn't see them play a home game until Wisconsin on Dec. 6.

"I think it showed that we're ready to play in both games," Enechionyia said. "It wasn't a big deal to us, but I think it kind of helped us."

Temple (2-0) pulled away late from their Southeastern Conference opponent to move back into its second Charleston finals. And they may get the chance to avenge a loss to Clemson in that 2008 championship game -- the Clemson Tigers face Hofstra for the other spot in Sunday night's title contest.

"It's exciting," Enechionyia said. "It's like last year in the preseason NIT."

That's where Temple won the NIT Season Tip-Off event with an 81-77 victory over West Virginia in 2016. Temple coach Fran Dunphy hopes his team can channel those good experiences from last year this time around.

"Three games in four days, that's a lot of basketball," he said. "We need some rest."

Auburn will play the Hofstra-Clemson loser Sunday -- the tournament takes a college football break Saturday -- for third place.

Temple trailed the Tigers (2-1) on Jared Harper's basket with 10:17 to go. Shizz Alston Jr. hit a 3-pointer to put the Owls back in front -- the ball hit off the rim, bounded high in the air before falling through -- and Enechionyia gave them the lead for good with a pair of foul shots moments later. Auburn made one last charge when Mustapha Heron's 3 pulled the Tigers to 70-67. But Quinton Rose followed with a 3-pointer and Auburn never caught up.

Rose finished with 19 points off five 3-pointers. Alston had 18 points, 11 in the second half, for Temple.

Anfernee McLemore led Auburn with 19 points, but he also picked up a technical at a crucial juncture. His foul against Temple came from holding onto the rim for too long after a dunk and allowed Temple to quickly move back in front on Alston's two foul shots when McLemore had tied things at 48-all.

McLemore said the players ran out of gas down the stretch. "We just have to stay focused," he said. "We had mental lapses in the second half."

It was Enechionyia's first double-double of the season and fourth of his career.

The takeaway
Auburn: When the Tigers show up cold from the outside, it could be a long game. Auburn hit just 3 of 18 3-pointers in the opening half and the Tigers were generally off target throughout the first 20 minutes. Mustapha Heron was 1 of 9 including 0 of 4 from behind the arc. DeSean Murray and Bryce Brown were each 1 of 7. The numbers improved some in the second half (5 of 15 from three), but Tigers will have to find a better balance if they hope to compete in the Southeastern Conference.

Temple: The Owls were continually caught flat-footed by Auburn's guards, who found ways to get to the basket early -- even if the Tigers could not find the basket. Temple picked up its defense in the second half to pull away from the Tigers.

Tech problems
Auburn has picked up four technical fouls in two games.

Threes a plenty
Neither team was particularly crisp from long range. Temple hit 10 of 26 3-pointers (38.6 percent) while Auburn finished just 8 of 33 from behind the arc (24.8 percent). "We could've gotten better looks," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. "We didn't get to the foul line in the second half which was real key."

Up next
Auburn will play the Clemson-Hofstra loser on Sunday for third place.

Temple will face either Clemson or Hofstra for the tournament championship Sunday night. 

Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose lead Temple over St. Joe's in Big 5 battle

usa-shizz-alston-temple.jpg
USA Today Images

Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose lead Temple over St. Joe's in Big 5 battle

BOX SCORE

With five minutes and 22 seconds left in the first half and Temple trailing St. Joe’s, 26-24, De’Vondre Perry took a three-pointer that hit the back iron and missed long.

Out of nowhere, Quinton Rose streaked down the center of the free throw lane, leaped above everyone on the floor, corralled the offensive rebound and completed the two-handed slam to tie the game, prompting an eruption from the Liacouras Center crowd.

“That’s just how [Quinton] plays,” Shizz Alston Jr. said. “When guys start jawing at him he just turns it up a notch. I think some of their players were talking to him and he just got juiced up off of that.”

The play energized the Owls after a slow start, highlighting a 17-3 run to end the half and leading to an 81-78 Temple victory (see observations). Alston Jr. led all scorers with 20 points, including five three-pointers, and Rose added a 15 point, 11 rebound double-double for the squad.

At the start of the game, St. Joe’s came out hot, hitting on three of their first five three-point attempts and jumping out to a 17-8 lead early in the game. After a Fran Dunphy timeout with just less than 13 minutes left in the half, the Owls seemed to tighten up defensively.

“He just told us we had to pick it up,” Rose said. “It’s simple as that.

"I think we had a lack of communication and the biggest thing is we don’t finish our possessions with rebounds. We give up a lot of second-chance points. We just have to straighten that up and I think we’ll be good.”

Obi Enechionyia and Rose came up with big blocks and Temple started forcing turnovers. This helped the offense get going, in particular, Alston, whose 15 first-half points kept Temple in the ball game despite the hot shooting start by St. Joe's.

Perry, a true freshman, provided a spark off the bench for the Owls, contributing nine points in the first half, including two threes and a tough finish at the rim.

“He showed a lot of toughness,” Rose said. “I mean he’s young, but he showed a lot of toughness on the defensive end and rebounding. He made some big shots for us too.”

Perry attributed a lot of the open looks he got to his teammates.

“My teammates opened it up for me,” Perry said. “Either driving or kicking or just doing what they do best by penetrating and giving me the ball.”

Temple’s star big man, Enechionyia, struggled throughout the game, going 1 for 8 from the field and finishing with four points while being limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble. Center Ernest Aflakpui came up big in his absence, putting up 12 points on 5 for 6 from the field and adding six rebounds.

“If we can count on a dozen points from Ern every game, that would be spectacular,” Dunphy said. “It’s obviously not his forte, but he did a terrific job. I thought he was poised at the rim and didn’t rush himself.”

In the last five minutes, the Hawks rallied from 16 down and cut the lead to four, but five clutch free throws from fifth-year senior guard Josh Brown sealed Temple’s first Big 5 and Atlantic-10 win of the year.

“I thought Josh Brown saved us at the foul line,” head coach Fran Dunphy said. “I thought he played great again. He played great against Wisconsin and played great again. I’m very, very proud of him.”

The Owls, now 6-2 on the season, will host the No. 4-ranked Villanova Wildcats, who could jump to No. 1 in the country after Duke’s loss Saturday, in another Big 5 showdown this Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

“It’s a really big opportunity,” Rose said. “I hope they are No. 1 so we can knock them off.”

Temple-St. Joe's observations: Owls hold off late rally

uspresswire-temple-fran-dunphy.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple-St. Joe's observations: Owls hold off late rally

BOX SCORE

Temple on Saturday afternoon nabbed its first win against a Big 5 team and an Atlantic 10 team with an 81-78 victory over St. Joe’s at the Liacouras Center.

With five clutch free throws from fifth-year senior guard Josh Brown, the Owls held off a late rally by the Hawks. Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 20 points and four rebounds, while Quinton Rose added a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.

Temple moves to 6-2 on the season with the victory.

• St. Joe’s was on fire early on, making three of its first five three-point attempts, en route to a 17-8 lead just over seven minutes into the game.

• After a Fran Dunphy timeout with 12:44 left in the first half, Temple turned up its effort on defense. Big blocks by Rose and Obi Enechionyia allowed Temple to take the lead, 18-17, with 9:30 left in the half. The Owls forced a total of eight turnovers in the first half.

• Alston, Jr. dominated the first half and really kept the Owls in the game during St. Joe’s early run. He went 5 for 8 from the field in the first half, including 4 of 5 from three-point range, for 15 points. The junior guard has developed tremendously since last season, coming into this contest averaging 16.9 points, which is up from 13.9 points per game last year in his sophomore campaign.

• Enechionyia struggled in the first half, going 1 for 6 from the field in 17 minutes of action. He missed multiple fadeaway jumpers on the baseline and didn’t make an impact in the post. He also picked up his third foul less than a minute into the second half and had to go to the bench. The senior power forward finished the afternoon with just four points and six rebounds.

• Junior center Ernest Aflakpui filled in tremendously with Enechionyia on the bench. He scored 12 points while shooting 83 percent from the field, added six rebounds and disrupted shots around the rim.

• De’Vondre Perry also played a big role for Temple, putting up nine points, 6.9 points more than his season average, in 21 minutes of action, which is up from his season average of 12.3 minutes per game. The true freshman did it in a variety of ways as well, driving and finishing at the basket, drawing fouls and adding two three-pointers. Perry was the only freshman to play in the game.

• Rose displayed his incredible athleticism with multiple big plays in the first half. The sophomore guard slashed through the lane and made a contested layup to put Temple up 18-17, and then followed a Perry missed three-pointer with a put-back dunk that caused the crowd to erupt. He also missed a few layups during the game, showing he still can refine his touch around the basket, but finished the game with 15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

• The student section was involved throughout the game, bringing out big-head posters during opponents’ free throws, making noise after airballs and erupting after multiple big Rose dunks. In Temple’s second Big 5 game of the year, the Owls fans needed to out-do the St. Joe’s fans who traveled to North Philly, and they certainly did.

• The win marks Temple’s first Big 5 victory of the year, almost two weeks after its 87-83 road loss to La Salle. It was a physical matchup that seemed like it would get chippy. Rose got into a St. Joe’s player’s face after a layup in the first half. Enechionyia was elbowed in the face while going up for a rebound at the end of the first half. Temple was the more physical, scrappy team Saturday, but will need to be better this Wednesday against another Big 5 team, No. 4 Villanova.

The Hawks return to action next Sunday when they host Maine.