The Temple Owls had fouls to give, and they kept using them to keep Tulsa away from the hoop. When Tulsa never did find a shot, Owls players celebrated a 59-58 victory Wednesday at the Liacouras Center like …
… like they should have. Trying to win their first game inside the building in a month, needing a W of any kind desperately, the Temple Owls saw early shooting woes turn another game into a tug-of-war. When big plays at both ends decided things, who could blame the Owls for a quick and joyous celebration?
Owls senior Josh Brown had himself another game-winner when he cut to the hoop and received a pass from an alert freshman, J.P. Moorman, who had just grabbed the biggest offensive rebound of his young career.
“A freshman that made a winning play,’’ Brown said later. “That was a tough rebound to get and he had the presence of mind to turn around and throw a bounce pass to me. Tremendous.”
Temple improved to 9-9 overall and 2-5 in the American Athletic Conference. A comeback was required after Tulsa had been getting easy buckets inside down the stretch to keep the Golden Hurricane in front. But Quinton Rose (19 points) and Obi Enechionyia (15 points, all in second half) kept scoring to keep Temple in range. Enechionyia hit a catch-and-shoot three with 80 seconds left to draw Temple within 58-57.
After a Temple trap forced a turnover, Alston drove and kicked the ball to an open Rose in the corner. The shot missed but Moorman grabbed the rebound and got it to Brown with just under 30 seconds left.
Three times, Temple fouled as the clock whittled down to 3.3 seconds. There would be no opposition game-winner for a third straight home game after the Owls forced a final turnover. “We see the talent that we have as a team and the potential that this team has,’’ Enechionyia said. “We haven’t lived up to that at all. It’s something we take personally.”
At halftime, it was 26-26 and Rose had a dozen points. The numbers that stood out for the Owls were at the defensive end. Moorman, the freshman big man, had four steals by halftime and ended up with seven rebounds and also 3 assists. His fellow rookie De’Vondre Perry had three first dunks. Tulsa (10-9, 3-4) had 11 turnovers. The score was tied chiefly because the Owls couldn’t heat up outside. Rose had three three-pointers. In the half, his teammates combined to shoot 0 of 11 from the arc.
“I just felt good,’’ Enechionyia said of heating up after the break. “I was confident in my shot and I kept putting them up. They were falling. Really nothing different. They were just falling.”