At this point of the season, Temple needs as many wins as it can muster, but what the Owls really couldn’t afford to put on an already shaky resumé was another bad loss.
On Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center, Temple accomplished both objectives with a 90-73 American Athletic Conference victory over East Carolina.
Quinton Rose scored 23 points while Josh Brown added 17 to lead six players in double-digit scoring as the Owls (14-10, 6-6) won their fourth straight game.
For Temple, which is trying to play its way onto the NCAA tournament bubble, a loss to East Carolina (9-14, 3-9) might have been the kind that would have burst those hopes.
Dropping a home game to a team with a losing record is not something Temple can afford to do when dozens of teams across the nation are trying to play their way into tournament consideration.
The Owls don’t necessarily have to win all of their remaining six regular-season games — although that would be a big boost, especially with matchups against 22nd-ranked Wichita State and a home game with Houston remaining — but dropping a game to a bad team down the stretch would be a blotch that might not be able to be wiped away.
With six conference wins, the Owls are suddenly even with Tulsa for the fourth-highest total in the AAC. That’s a long way from mid-January when they had lost five of six conference games.
“We had a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and ever since then the character, the energy and everything has been good at practice and in games,” Brown said. We know we dug our way into a hole, but we’re not out of it yet.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away. We know how hard it’s going to be, but we just have to focus on the next game, which is South Florida.”
After losing a 12-point lead when East Carolina tied the scored at 44 with just under 18 minutes left in the game, the Owls used an 18-6 run to regain control.
Rose had 11 points during the decisive five minutes for Temple.
“After halftime, we came out saying that we wanted to throw the first punch, but unfortunately, that did not happen,” Rose said. “But we knew it wasn’t over. We knew we still had plenty of time, so we just picked it up from there.
“I wouldn’t say I took it on to myself, but I did make an emphasis to be more aggressive. I saw that we were struggling, but I wouldn’t say I took it on myself.”
Temple played without senior Obi Enechionyia, who was sidelined with an illness.