Temple Owls

Temple-Wisconsin observations: A home opener worth the wait

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Temple-Wisconsin observations: A home opener worth the wait

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Temple’s long-awaited home opener finally came and went, and the Owls were able to welcome their fans back into the Liacouras Center with open arms on Wednesday night.

The Owls, fueled by stifling defense late, held off the Wisconsin Badgers, 59-55. Shizz Alston Jr. sealed the game with four free throws.

Alston finished with a total of 22 points to lead Temple. Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ led all scorers with 23 points.

Obi Enechionyia added four blocks, including two of them in the final two minutes to help the Owls close out the Big Ten opponent.

Temple moved to 5-2 with the win, while Wisconsin dropped to 4-6.

• After going back and forth for 38 minutes of the contest, the game was decided by clutch free throws from Alston. In fact, Alston has now made 52 consecutive free throws dating back to 2016, setting the all-time mark at Temple. The previous record was 49 straight by Lynn Greer. Alston went 6 of 6 at the charity stripe, four of them big ones in the final 1:09 of regulation.

• Coming into the game, Happ, a third-team All-American last season, was the only player among Power Six conferences averaging at least 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game.

• From the beginning of the game, Happ made his presence felt and showed why he is one of the best bigs in the country. He was dominant on the glass, in the paint and in the pick-and-roll game. Happ (23 points, six rebounds and three assists) also showed his mid-range game, as well, and was the only Badger in double-figure scoring. Wisconsin looked to him early and often in the post, and Happ took advantage of the Owls' inexperienced bigs in Damion Moore and Ernest Aflakpui.

• Temple definitely missed Josh Brown’s leadership last season. The redshirt senior missed a majority of the 2016-17 season after an Achilles injury kept him on the sidelines. With him on the court, the Owls look more organized and composed. He is a glue player that makes everyone around him better and his experience is vital for a team made up of nine underclassmen. 

• Moore provided a jolt for the Owls when he entered the game at the 11-minute mark of the first half. His two quick buckets helped give the Owls a 23-20 lead at the 7:28 mark. Moore is just two games removed from his double-double against South Carolina in which he finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

• The Owls had to take a lot of shots at the end of the shot clock but Alston made two jump shots and Enechionyia connected on a three-pointer. Converting these situations helped the Owls hold a 31-28 lead at halftime.

• With 16:35 left in the second half, Brown took a shot to the face, specifically the nose area, from Wisconsin guard Brevin Pritzl, and was holding his head back as he walked to the sidelines. Alston converted both free throws from the Flagrant 1 foul. Brown would return at the 10:57 mark.

• Temple relied heavily on three-point shots. However, they ultimately fell flat from long range, making only 3 out of 14.

• Alston showed his shooting ability from mid-range and from inside the paint. The Owls have quite a backcourt in Brown and Alston, and all of Temple’s guards have solid ability to impact the game on both sides of the floor. The Owls will be in good hands once Brown graduates, with Alston (junior), Quinton Rose (sophomore) and Alani Moore II (sophomore) in the fold.

• Rose (nine points) exhibited why he is one of the most exciting players in the Big 5. His athleticism is what stands out, as well as how strong he is off the dribble. He took a steal and slammed in a two-handed dunk to electrify the Liacouras Center. At 6-foot-8 for a guard, Rose is extremely talented with a bright future.

• Temple’s student section was loud and engaged, and because of overflow, the Owls had to send some to the upper level of the arena. They had to be loud since Wisconsin fans surrounded the majority of the Liacouras Center and had a large presence.

• This is Temple’s first victory over Wisconsin since Dec. 3, 2003, when the Owls won, 70-67, in double overtime. 

• Temple’s next game will be at the Liacouras Center against Big 5 rival St. Joe’s on Saturday. Wisconsin’s next game, also Saturday, is at home against Marquette.

Temple holds off Drexel in 1st matchup in 10 years

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Temple holds off Drexel in 1st matchup in 10 years

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Shizz Alston Jr. scored 12 points and Temple got a big contribution from its bench in beating Drexel 63-60 on Saturday.

Temple reserves Damion Moore, De'Vondre Perry and Alani Moore II combined to score 19 of the Owls' 38 points in the first half. Temple (7-3) led 38-29 at halftime after Quinton Rose's 3-pointer.

The Dragons (5-6) opened the second half on a 7-0 run and Austin Williams' dunk tied it at 53 with 5:32 left. Temple regained the lead on a Rose jumper, but Sammy Mojica sank a 3-pointer and Drexel led 56-55 with 2:42 to go. It was the Dragons' first lead since 6-4.

Alston rebounded his own missed shot and scored and Rose fed Aflakpui for a layup and a 61-57 Temple lead. Kurk Lee cut the deficit to a point with a long 3-pointer with 15 seconds left, but Enechionyia hit a pair of free throws and Lee missed a 3 at the buzzer.

Demir led Drexel with 16 points, Williams scored 15 with 10 rebounds and Mojica scored 11.

Enechionyia was one of five Owls who finished with eight points and he added nine rebounds and five blocked shots.

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

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

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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.”