In a packed house at Tom Gola arena Saturday afternoon, two young head coaches Aaron Mckie, and Ashley Howard prepared to add to the storied history of Big 5 basketball.
Starting things off with a bang was Nate Pierre Louis with a steal and monster throw down to get things underway. The Owls jumped out to an early 7-1 lead on the Explorers to force their hand in calling their first timeout.
Lasalle snapped out of their bumpy start to trim the score to 13-11, but the Owls stayed composed and went on another five-minute scoring surge to blow things open. Quinton Rose knocked down consecutive jumpers, and Nate Pierre Louis joined in on the action too, increasing the Owl lead to 24-11. The first half closed out, and Temple maintained control heading into the locker rooms with a double-digit, 36-22 halftime lead.
Both Quinton Rose and Nate Pierre Louis led the scoring at halftime with 11 and 12 points, continuing to be anchors in the Temples offense, which has carried over throughout the season.
Early in the second half, the game looked out of reach for Lasalle with Temple seizing control of the tempo. Nate Pierre Louis knocked down free throws to give the Owls a 20 point lead with just over ten minutes remaining. One of the issues Temple continues to deal with is their ability to maintain their leads down the stretch, which became evident later in the game.
Just as things seemed to begin to slip away for the Explorers, they started to chip back with clutch shots and gritty defense. Lasalle’s Saul Phiri completed an and-one basket after being fouled on a jump shot, and his teammates Shariff Kenney and Scott Spencer followed suit with threes of their own to cut the lead to 61-54. Although Lasalle did outplay the Owls in the second half 43 – 34, their 14 point deficit at halftime proved to be too much to overcome.
Clutch free throws down the stretch from Nate Pierre Louis and Alani Moore all but sealed the victory for Temple to close the game.
Temple pulled out the win with a final score of 70 – 65. With this win, Aaron Mckie became the first Temple Men’s basketball coach to lead his team to a (3-0) record since 1977.
Nate Pierre Louis notched his 3rd straight double-double with 21 points 12reb 4ast. Two of the other captains made their presence felt throughout the game, as well. Quinton Rose rounded out the scoring with 18 points 3 steals and junior forward J.P. Moorman II contributed seven rebounds and six assists in the close win.
Temple has some critical games coming up on their slate in the next couple of weeks. Starting this Friday, they will be in Southern California as they take on a (4-0) USC team. Following Thanksgiving, they will be in Florida for the Orlando invitational to battle it out alongside Texas A & M, Harvard, and #7 ranked Maryland.