BROOKLYN – The Temple Owls men’s basketball team regained the lead in a game they trailed 21-4 close to midway through the first half. Unfortunately for the Owls, 32.3 percent shooting from the field and 14.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc was just too much to overcome against VCU.
VCU was led by its junior guard, Marcus Evans, who finished with a game-high 21 points. His three-pointer with under a minute to play was the dagger, giving the Rams a four-point lead en route to a 57-51 victory at Barclays Center Monday night.
The Owls struggled from the field, but 46.6 percent free throw shooting didn’t help either. Quinton Rose, who scored just eight points on 4-for-15 (0-for-5) shooting, capped off his disappointing night with a pair of missed free throws with 1:58 remaining with a chance to take the lead.
Rose, however, was not alone in his struggles. Shizz Alston Jr., who was the Owls leading scorer entering the game with an average of 21.6 points per game, had just six points on 2-for-14 (2-for-10) shooting.
Leading the way for the Owls was Nate Pierre-Louis, who had 11 points on 5-for-11 (0-for-2) shooting to go along with eight rebounds. The 6’4″ sophomore guard continues to be a bright spot for the Owls this season, scoring in double figures in all five games the team has played.
“We just had a bad a shooting night,” Pierre-Louis said. “We’ll get better, if Shizz or Quinton had an average night we would’ve won.”
“I think VCU defensively makes you shoot quicker than you want to,” head coach Fran Dunphy said. “We could’ve been more patient and took the ball to the basket more.”
The Owls started slowly, an issue that has lingered over this team since the season began two weeks ago. The Owls shot 24.3 percent in the first half and made just one three-pointer on 15 attempts.
The second half started with an 10-3 run for the Owls. Temple shot 44 percent in the second half.
“I think the way we battled all the way back tonight showed a lot of resiliency out of this team,” Dunphy said.
“We’re going to keep shooting,” Pierre-Louis said. “We just need to shoot better.”
The Owls will be right back on the Barclays Center floor on Tuesday night when they’ll take on a 1-2 Cal team in the GotPrint.com Legends Classic third-place game. The Bears were defeated by St. Johns in Monday night’s other semifinal, 82-79.