With a little over two minutes left, Shizz Alston, Jr. drained yet another three to give the Owls more padding in their win against SMU on Wednesday, 82-74. Alston was the difference maker as he drained two big threes in the final four minutes.
Six minutes remained, and Temple only led by one after a huge bucket by SMU’s Jahmal McMurray. The Owls had to match SMU’s high scoring ability in the last few minutes, as McMurray was then able to hit a clutch three to tie the game at 62 with 4:40 left. Alston had no problem hitting the pair of threes to help them get the win. Alston had 13 of his 28 points in the final six minutes. The Owls were not only led by Alston, Quinton Rose had a few big steals towards the end of the game to help keep them ahead.
Nate Pierre-Louis also came up big in the closing moments, hitting a three with 1:40 left, then getting a huge breakaway dunk to make it 81-74 with 20 seconds left. Pierre-Louis ended with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
The Owls and Mustangs came out of the half tied at 34. The Owls were gaining some distance from SMU right out of the gates, increasing their lead to 43-36 after a big And-One by Pierre-Louis that capped off a 7-0 run.
SMU was not going down easy, as they were able to climb back into it, and kept things interesting. They were led by McMurray who ended with 22 points. SMU silenced the crowd at the Liacouras Center with a few huge Alley-Oops in the second half to gain some momentum. However, their defense down the stretch was not able to contain Alston.
Post-game, SMU’s Head Coach Tim Jankovich touched on what he saw from Alston.
“He’s a great player. I like his personality on the floor too, I’m a fan of his,” said Jankovich. “He beat us from the offensive end.”
The first half was a slow one for the Owls. Temple looked out of it, and SMU controlled the pace of the game on the offense side of the ball. Temple was out of sorts on defense, as they looked one step behind, however SMU could not capitalize on those opportunities to get ahead.
Temple’s Rose was leading the way early on in the game, hitting five of nine for 12 points in the first half. Both teams had their chances, and both went on runs of their own, but Temple got called for a few fouls later in the first half, which drained the momentum they were gaining.
Temple was able to clean the fouling and defense troubles in the second half. The entire team looked rejuvenated and ready to play a great half.
Coach Fran Dunphy liked what he saw from his team in the second half, especially the way Pierre-Louis turned things around and was able to hit a late three that helped his team win.
“He’s got a lot of confidence in himself and he does some really good things,” said Dunphy.
The Owls got a huge win in another important game. Alston stressed that every game from here on out is a must win.
“Every game is a championship game, we are trying to make the tournament,” said Alston.
The Owls will be back on the road this weekend in Florida. They will face South Florida on Saturday, as they will need another win to increase their chances of making the tournament. The Owls sit at an 18-7 record and 8-4 in the conference. SMU falls to 12-12 and 4-8 in the AAC. Temple currently sits fourth in the AAC, and according to the NCAA Net Rankings, they are 55 in the country. If the Owls can stay where they are, they could make the tournament, as 68 total teams will be selected for the tournament.