Written by: Sam Cohn
PHILADELPHIA —Temple’s energy out of the locker room in the second half propelled them to a 65-63 victory over the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Wednesday night.
“In the second half, I thought our defense was where it needed to be,” said Temple head coach Fran Dunphy.
The Owls went on a 12 to 3 run in the first five minutes of the second half that put them right back in the ball game. It was a strong combination of getting in the way of passing lanes and converting off turnovers that led to the Owls second half success.
“Coach McKie preaches on defense to be in the gaps,” added Temple forward Quinton Rose.
It was evident the Owls were trying to play aggressive, strike-first basketball early on as they picked up nine first half fouls. Playing smarter, active defense kept them in check while putting up points on the scoreboard at a high rate.
Temple’s second half momentum swing was the defining moment for putting this game in the win column. They came out of halftime with confidence and trust in one another which helped them erase the first half 13-point deficit.
Minutemen guard Luwane Pipkins came off a 26-point outing in a win against Providence but was unable to find a similar touch at the Liacouras Center, finishing with an underwhelming 12 points on 3 for 15 shooting from the field.
Temple shot just 2 for 18 from the perimeter in the win. They quickly realized the ball wasn’t falling and made adjustments to pound the ball inside or to score early in the shot clock, playing at a much faster pace.
“We’re grittier this year, we want to make a statement,” said the game’s leading scorer Shizz Alston Jr., who racked up 31 points in the victory including a few clutch free throws in the final minute.
UMass was able to rack up 10 more total rebounds but couldn’t keep up with the overall intensity brought by the Owls.
Temple’s victory brings them to a record of 5-0 at home and 8-2 on the season. They look forward to travelling to Atlantic City where they will take on Davidson this Saturday.
WHIP Player of the Game
Shizz Alston Jr. put up 31 points, shooting a tremendous 56% from the field. As many of Temple’s starters got into foul trouble early in the game, Shizz was able to stay aggressive at both ends of the floor without picking up any calls. Right from the get-go his jump shot was falling — and falling with consistency. He added four rebounds and two assists but his continued productivity propelled the rest of the team to make adjustments and improve as the game went on. Once again, Shizz’s leadership was on display as he kept his teammates active and aggressive the whole way.