Some clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch by Shizz Alston helped Temple bounce back from its worst loss of the young season with its best win.
Alston hit all six of his free throws, with four coming late in the game, as Temple beat Wisconsin, 59-55, Wednesday in a nonconference game at the Liacouras Center.
Temple (5-2) rebounded from Sunday’s 71-67 loss to George Washington. Alston scored a team-high 22 points, while 6-foot-10 Wisconsin all-American Ethan Happ scored 23.
Alston gave the Owls a 57-55 lead by hitting two free throws with 1 minute, 9 seconds left. Happ missed a jump hook, but Alston shot an air ball, giving the Badgers the ball with 27.6 seconds remaining.
Reaction from @TUMBBHoops 59-55 win over Wisconsin, beginning with Shizz Alston who was 6-6 from the foul line and has made 52 in a row, breaking Lynn Greer’s team record of 49. pic.twitter.com/3QRII8Q2NJ
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) December 7, 2017
Wisconsin’s Kobe King missed a three-pointer with 12 seconds left from the top of the key over Josh Brown.
“That was exactly what we wanted, and if that wasn’t open we were looking for Happ,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said.
Alston then sealed the win with two free throws with 4.6 seconds on the clock. That extended his consecutive free-throw streak to 52, dating back to last season. During the game, he broke Temple’s consecutive free-throw record of 49 set by Lynn Greer.
“The most important thing for us was getting the win,” Alston said. “The record wouldn’t mean as much if we lost.”
Other than Alston, Temple struggled at line,. The rest of the team was 2 for 9.
Down the stretch Temple went with 6-10 senior Obi Enechionyia on the floor with four guards. Enechionyia had two of his four blocked shots late in the game while defending Happ.
“When [Happ] gets on block, he is always a threat to score and he is a good passer also,” said Enechionyia, who also contributed 11 points and seven rebounds. “He is pretty skilled.”
With 16:36 left in the second half, Temple’s Brown took a forearm to the nose from Brevin Pritzi, who was assessed a flagrant 1 foul, giving the Owls their first two free throws of the game. A bloodied Brown returned and finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Wisconsin (4-6) has reached the NCAA tournament 19 consecutive times, the fifth-longest streak in NCAA history.
The Badgers have played one of the toughest schedules in the country, with three losses to current top-25 teams and a fourth to a UCLA team that was ranked at the time the two played. The only returning starter is Happ, who created plenty of problems for Temple until Enechionyia’s late-game defense and Alston’s foul shooting preserved the win.