When Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis hit a contested corner three at the buzzer to end the first half, it looked as if the Owls were at the mercy of the freshman guard who was on pace to surpass his career opening performance just three days prior. However, a strong effort from Shizz Alston Jr propelled the Temple Owls to a second consecutive victory at the Liacouras Center.
Thanks to Alston Jr., the Owls beat the Titans 83-67 to improve to 2-0 on the season and Davis wasn’t the games only 30 point scorer.
“Their guards aren’t super long or tall so I was able to get shots up,” Alston Jr. said. “It felt good to see all those shots go in and help my team win.”
Alston took advantage of Detroit Mercy’s 2-3 zone and a pair of 6-1 guards in Davis and senior Josh McFolley. The senior guard from The Haverford School finished the game with a career-high 30 points Friday night on 9-17 (7-12 from 3) shooting.
The Owls got out to their second slow start of the season, as the Titans began the game on a 13-2 run, 9 of which came from three 3-pointers by Davis, the Titans head coach Mike Davis’ son. Davis finished the first half with 19 points on 7-11 (5-8 from 3) shooting and seemed unguardable for the first 20 minutes.
“He reminded me of Trae Young,” said Owls head coach Fran Dunphy, comparing the Davis to current Atlanta Hawk and 5th overall pick in June’s NBA Draft. “I thought we did about as good of a job as possible at guarding him and he had 19 in the first half and finished with 30.”
Among the early struggles for the Owls were two sloppy turnovers on fast breaks in the game’s opening five minutes as well as a slow start from Quinton Rose, who had just two points one assist and a pair of rebounds at halftime.
“I couldn’t get in a rhythm at all in the first half,” said Rose. “Shizz actually told me to try and get in the middle on offense to get some more touches and it worked.”
The junior guard, who led the Owls in scoring a year ago, finished the game as the Owls second-leading scorer with 17 points.
Rose wasn’t the only thing working in the middle of the floor. The big-man duo of Ernest Aflakpui and Damion Moore combined for 14 points and 15 rebounds on 7-8 shooting. Perhaps more importantly, both were able to stay out of foul trouble, an issue that plagued the Owls in the second half in the win over La Salle.
“We really started doing a good job in the second half of getting the ball inside in the second half,” Dunphy said. “Once we got that going we started getting kickouts to Shizz on the perimeter and we started to connect offensively.”
The Owls second half adjustments proved effective, winning by 16 after trailing by four at the half.
“It’s just coming out ready to play and having an answer on the offensive end earlier in the game,” Dunphy said. “We’re going to have to start out games a lot better going forward.”
Photo: WXYZ – TV