Brooklyn, New York– The Owls were staring at an 18-point deficit after the Florida State Seminoles stole an inbound pass and laid it in to make the score 60-42 with 13:29 remaining in the NIT Tip-Off Semifinal in Brooklyn, NY.
Coach Fran Dunphy called a timeout to regroup his team, and whatever he said in that huddle really lit a spark in his Owls. Not only did the Owls turn this blowout into a tight game in very little time, the Owls came all the way back and upset the #25 Seminoles 89-86 to advance to the NIT Tip-Off Championship.
The Owls struggled to find an offensive flow in the first half of the Thanksgiving Day contest. While they did shoot 40% from two on 12-30 shooting, they struggled from the foul line as they went 4-9 (44%) and committed eight turnovers in the first twenty minutes.The Cherry and the White trailed 41-31 at half and Florida State was led by Xavier Rathan-Mayes who tallied 11 points.
Temple continued to be inept of the offensive end early in the second half and the game was looking more and more like an embarrassing defeat, until that 13:29 mark. After that Temple timeout, the Owls scored 47 of their 58 second half points and were on fire from all over the court.
Quinton Rose, Shizz Alston Jr. and Co. shot 53% from within the three-point arc, 57% from behind, and 16-18 from the free-throw line as the offense exploded in this comeback win. The Owls were able to chip the deficit away with help from their 8 second half three pointers, with none more important than Alani Moore’s corner threeball that gave the Owls a 73-72 lead. The Alani Moore three-pointer capped off a 21-6 run for Temple.
There were two ties and six lead changes in the final seven minutes of the game, but another three-pointer from Alani Moore with 4:50 remaining put the Owls up for the rest of the game. The largest Temple lead came after an Obi Enechionyia three-pointer that gave Temple a 5 point lead with 2:10 remaining. But Florida State would not go away.
The Seminoles had a great opportunity to re-take the lead when they inbounded the ball to Jonathan Isaac, who was wide open underneath basket after a great inbound play. Isaac got the ball with 4.6 seconds and trailing by one, but the freshmen did not use the blackboard on the layup and shanked what would have been a go-ahead lay-up with only seconds remaining. The Seminoles were forced to foul Quinton Rose, who grabbed the board, and Rose put the upset victory on ice as he cashed both free throws.
Shooting guard Quinton Rose had a career and game high 26 points, along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Rose, a Rochester, NY native, went 12-15 from the free-throw line to record a bulk of his points in his return to The Empire State
Sophomore Shizz Alston Jr. had a career high 22 points on an impressive 7-15 shooting, and had another game where he had zero turnovers while running the offense for Temple.
For Florida State, Dwayne Bacon had a team-high 22 points and three other Seminoles posted double-digit points in the defeat.
West Virginia blew out Illinois 89-57 in the other semi-final, so the Owls will look to defeat their second ranked opponent in as many days and capture the NIT Season Tip-Off Champinship on Friday at 3 pm. The game will be aired on ESPN2.