Temple’s experience of playing in so many nail-biters came in handy Saturday in a Big Five matchup against Penn.
Trailing by three points with under four minutes left, Temple scored the game’s final 12 points during in a 60-51 win over the scrappy Quakers before 7,233 at the Palestra.
Shizz Alston started the run with a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the score at 51 with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left.
“I felt I needed to make a play. They had a little momentum and I wanted to stop the momentum they had by making a play,” said Alston, who scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half.
After that, Temple got a runner in the lane by freshman J.P. Moorman, a three-pointer by Josh Brown and two free throws each by Alston and Obi Enechionyia, who had a game-high 15 points, 10 in the second half.
Temple (10-9) finished 2-2 in the Big Five, while Penn is 12-6, 0-3. The Owls have won 11 straight over Penn.
Entering this matchup, Temple had played 10 games decided by five points or fewer and was 5-5 in those games. In their previous three games, the Owls scored 197 points and allowed 197, winning twice.
Reaction from Temple’s 60-51,win over Penn. We hear from Penn coach Steve Donahue, Temple coach Fran Dunphy and Temple’s Obi Enechionyia, who scored a game-high 15 points pic.twitter.com/fneAGAArnA
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) January 20, 2018
Penn showed plenty of fight. The Quakers held a 25-24 halftime lead, but fell 12 points behind early in the second half before taking a 51-48 lead on a three-pointer by sophomore forward AJ Brodeur with 4:02 left. Temple then pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
“We went up 12 in the second half and they were able to claw their way back and we had to gut it out at the end and push ahead,” Enechionyia said.
After the Quakers went up, 51-48, they missed their final seven shots from the field, missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and committed a turnover.
Several of those seven missed shots came right near the rim.
“It is hard to get them [the Owls] out of positions, they sense it and use their length, and there were probably 10 plays we might finish in our league,” said Penn coach Steve Donahue, who saw Brodeur and Ryan Betley score a team-high 12 points. “If we played against this length more often, I did think we had an issue with them, and started rushing our shots and not being who we are.”
Who Penn is happens to be a serious Ivy League contender. The Quakers are 3-0 in the Ivies and will face St. Joseph’s on Saturday before returning to league action on Feb. 2 against Brown.