Written by: Sam Cohn
Photos by: Sam Cohn
A depleted front-court for a team that emphasizes ‘strength in numbers’ forced Temple guards to be the difference maker on Saturday afternoon.
Monty Scott and Josh Pierre-Louis stepped up to the challenge helping lead the Owls to a 97-90 comeback win over SMU at the Liacouras Center.
Pierre-Louis provided a spark off the bench with 9 points including back-to-back 3’s that brought the Owls within three. Scott finished the day with a season-high 22 points, in a season-high 36 minutes.
“I felt pretty good getting my groove back,” Scott said. “I didn’t play much last game so I came out with a mentality wanting to show people what I can do.”
Temple utilized a small-ball lineup for much of the afternoon with forwards De’Vondre Perry and J.P. Moorman II out, due to injury. To make matters worse for the Owls, R-freshman big man Arashma Parks went down in the first half and spent the remainder of the game on the bench with his right arm in a sling.
“[Playing small ball] generated a lot of offense for us,” Alani Moore II said. “The next step is rebounding because we’re a smaller lineup, but that’s all heart and toughness at the end of the day.”
SMU edged out the Owls on the glass 37-32, including 16 offensive boards.
“Everybody had to crash, all five guys,” senior captain Quinton Rose said. “We struggled at times and that’s going to happen with a small lineup but I think we fought hard on the glass.”
Temple trailed 44-25 with 2:51 left in the first half but stormed back in the second frame.
Rose capped off an immaculate performance with 25 points, including 9 straight in overtime, becoming the all-time leading scorer for the American Athletic Conference, founded in April of 2013.
“We usually have a big man in the middle,” Scott said. “Having [Rose] right there, someone that can shoot and pass out of the zone helped us, they didn’t really know what to do.”
SMU shot the ball 63% from the field and 64% from deep in the first half. They cooled down in the second but a lights-out shooting performance jumped the Mustangs out to an early lead.
Kendric Davis posted a double-double leading the way for SMU with 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting the ball to go along with 10 assists.
“He’s very cerebral in figuring out ways to get the ball to his shooters,” McKie said of Davis. “We wanted to give those guys different looks to change the flow and the momentum of the game.”
A slow first half gave Temple a chance to show their resilience and make a statement.
“I told them we had 9 games to make a statement,” Temple coach Aaron McKie said. “This is one, we got 8 more left and we want to try to continue to make a statement… I’m never losing faith. As long as the guys continue to fight, we’ll have a chance.”
Temple will travel to Tulane on Wednesday in a revenge game before hosting Big-5 foe Villanova at home next Sunday.