TULSA, Okla. – Temple overcame a slow start to get to within 4 points early in the second half, but Tulsa’s zone defense shut down the confused Owls the rest of the way, resulting in a 76-58 loss on Saturday.
Shizz Alston scored 13 points, 11 in the first 10 minutes, and added six assists for Temple (17-7, 7-4 AAC), which shot just 21.7 percent (5 for 23) in the second half, including just 1 of 16 over the final 16 minutes. Overall, Temple shot 30.6 percent (15 of 49).
Nate Pierre-Louis had 12 points and five rebounds, while Quinton Rose added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Owls, who seemed to get more frustrated as the second half wore on.
Alston “had a good first half, obviously, and we needed to get him to the line a couple of times in that second half,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “Obviously, they pressured him differently in the second half than they did in the first half, so that’s when other guys have to step up.”
Alston acknowledged that Tulsa’s zone defense gave them considerable difficulty throughout the day.
“We didn’t really execute offense-wise,” said Alston, who also had two steals. “It was a little different, we hadn’t practiced playing against their zone. It was something we didn’t face yet.”
It marked the third time in four years that the Owls lost by at least 18 points in Tulsa.
“I’m glad this will be my last time in Tulsa, I’ll tell you that,” said Alston, a senior.
Sterling Taplin, with 14 points, led five Golden Hurricanes in double digits. Tulsa (14-10, 4-7) shot 61.5 percent (16 of 26) in the first half and 55.4 percent (31 of 56) overall. The team, which was 1-4 in its previous five games, never trailed.
“We let them free too many times, we over-helped a couple of times, and our defense wasn’t very good,” Dunphy said. “That 62 percent in the first half is never going to cut it. We did cut it down a little bit in the second half, had our moments to cut it even closer – a loose ball that we don’t get, a run-out that they get, an open look that we finally get and we don’t knock it down. It was a combination of all of those kinds of things.”
An 8-0 Owls run, keyed by two sparkling dunks by Justyn Hamilton set up by slick Alston passes, pulled them to within 46-42 with 16:33 remaining.
Soon after, a ball went out of bounds and the officials ruled it deflected off Alston, although replays showed he never touched it. That was emblematic of several close calls that went against the Owls down the stretch, which seemed to frustrate them.
“The ball’s been bouncing our way a lot this season, and today, it didn’t really bounce our way, and we kind of let that affect us a little bit,” Alston said. “We were down by four, and then they call out of bounds on me, and that kind of affected us, but we have to be stronger than that.”
Tulsa scored the next 5 points, and several minutes later an 8-0 Tulsa run made it 61-46 with 9:47 to go. A 13-0 Golden Hurricane run, during which the Owls missed five straight shots, pushed the lead over 20 in the final five minutes.