It was a classic Big 5 battle. The score going back and forth, crowd going wild–audible with every play. A true nail-biter until the end. Yet, it was anything but unpredictable.
For the 24th straight game, Villanova walks away with a Big 5 victory. Their 69-59 win over the Owls marks six years exactly since the Wildcats lost to Temple and in the Big 5.
For senior, Shizz Alston Jr., who has been molded by Big 5 basketball, he will not be able to cross beat Villanova off of any collegiate bucket lists. “It definitely hurts, I wanted to go out beating them one time,” said Alston. “A Big 5 championship would’ve been nice for me, coach, and Ern, but our main goal is getting to the [NCAA] tournament.” Alston started the night slow. For the majority of the first half he and Quinton Rose, the Owls’ two leading scorers, were a combined 2-11 from the field. Alston quickly picked it up and ended the first half with 9 points. He contributed 15 points for the Owls altogether but was only able to dish out three assists and picked up three turnovers.
Quinton Rose’s second-half awakening gave the Owls the spark they needed. Rose improved from 1-6 from the field to 3-3 from the field, including a three-pointer, to give the Owls an 8-2 run to open the second half. Rose ended with 13 points and four rebounds.
Nate Pierre-Louis and defensive tenacity not only propelled his offensive surge but shut down Villanova’s two main scorers. Pierre-Louis limited Nova standout, Phil Booth, to only 9 points shooting 2-7 from the field. Pierre-Louis also led all scorers with 19 points and led the Owls with 5 rebounds.
Temple ultimately was not able to score from deep. Even with Villanova shooting half of what they normally do from three, making only 7-21, they were far more efficient than Temple. Temple went 4-14 from behind the arc and did not get their first three-pointer until the final minute of the first half. “I thought we did some really good things,” said Dunphy. “We couldn’t sustain it.”
Temple drops to 2-1 in the Big 5 and 6-2 overall. Their next matchup will be against UMass at the Liacouras Center on Wednesday, December 12th. Tip-off is set for 7 pm.