The Temple men’s basketball team (14-0, 6-6 The American) continued their strong play Friday night as they defeated the Eastern Carolina (ECU) Pirates (9-14, 3-9 The American) by a score of 90-73. Sophomore guard Quinton Rose led the way with 23 points on 9-16 shooting, with 17 of those points coming in the second half.
The win marks Temple’s 1900th in school history, which is good for fifth all-time in the college rankings.
The Owls started off hot in the first half by taking a 15-4 lead just under six minutes in. The Pirates closed the gap to 21-18 about halfway through, but that was as close as they would get.
The Owls, who had 14 free throw attempts in the half, made five straight free throws to get the lead up to 38-62 with just under five minutes left. The Pirates closed the half on a 9-3 run and were down only 41-35 at the half.
The Pirates came out firing at the start of the second half and tied the game at 44 after a three-pointer by redshirt-freshman guard Shawn Williams. Coach Fran Dunphy quickly called a timeout. Afterwards, the Owls outscored the Pirates 46-29 for the rest of the game.
“I didn’t tell them anything earth-shattering by any stretch, just basically that we needed to pay attention to our details. From that point on though I thought that they understood that we were in a dogfight and then we made a couple of jump shots and our defense tightened up a little bit.
We are a team that has good stretches of basketball and we have to eliminate the not-so-good.” – Dunphy
Rose made his first seven shots of the half and had two emphatic dunks early on courtesy of junior guard Shizz Alston Jr.
The first one was off a fast-break and Alston sent the ball Rose’s way from half-court for an alley-oop. The second came just a few minutes later when Alston hit Rose as he was cutting baseline, and Rose proceeded to throw down a dunk over the like of Pirate freshman guard Dimitri Spasojevic.
“I think [the dunks] brought a lot of energy,” Rose said. “Those are two big plays but Shizz made two great passes to me and I just finished them off.”
The Owls had contributions from most players tonight. Senior guard Josh Brown scored 17 points on 5-11 shooting with eight rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Alston had 14 points on 5-10 shooting, junior center Ernest Aflakpui had 10 points and freshman guard Nate Pierre-Louis had 10 points as well with two threes.
Perhaps the surprise of the game was J.P. Moorman II. The freshman forward grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and had 11 points for his first ever career double-double. This was the first time since Lavoy Allen in the 2008 NCAA Tournament that an Owl has recorded a points-rebounds double-double.
“He was huge. He did a lot of the little things that Obi has been doing for us and you can see it, those 12 rebounds that he had for us were big rebounds for us,” Brown said. “He was aggressive tonight and helped to run the offense at the top of the key. He was getting those boards and pushing and creating shots for others, so he played a great game for us and I knew he would show up.”
Senior forward Obi Enechionya was not available for the game with an illness, so freshman forward De’Vondre Perry started in his place. He grabbed one rebound and blocked one shot in 11 minutes of play.
Sophomore center Damion Moore returned to play after he missed the last seven games with a right ankle sprain. He had four points and two rebounds and grabbed two rebounds in nine minutes.
Fan-favorite Steve Leonard got into the game towards the end as well. It was the senior forward’s birthday and he was the recipient of multiple cheers all night. He scored one point off of a free throw in one minute of play.
“He’s just a good man. Steve is a really good guy and he’s a terrific student and he’s a good teammate, he’s a really good teammate. He comes to practice every day and you never hear anything from him, he just does what you ask of him to do,” Dunphy said. “He’s just one of those great stories in my mind and hopefully our team appreciates him like the coaching staff does.”
The Owls will look to extend their win streak to five when they travel to Tampa, Florida to take on South Florida. The Bulls (8-17, 1-11 The American) have lost four games in a row and are in last place in the conference.