All Temple forward Jake Forrester could do was shake his head as he trudged to the team huddle.
After a turnover and a foul on the ensuing bucket, Temple called a timeout with 15 minutes, 30 seconds to play. The Owls were facing their largest deficit of the season, trailing Rider of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference by 14 points. The Owls needed a wake-up call, and Temple coach Aaron McKie grabbed his team’s attention in the huddle.
The message was well-received. Senior point guard Alani Moore hit a three off the break. Senior wing Quinton Rose finished an emphatic dunk in transition, and then followed with a lob pass to junior guard Dre Perry for another dunk.
The once-sleepy Liacouras Center was now rocking as Temple went on a 21-0 run en route to a 78-66 victory.
Temple (8-3) played another sloppy first half and was unable to find any offensive consistency. Rider (7-3), featuring eight Philadelphia-area players, took advantage. The Broncs made four of their last five three-pointers, shooting 7-of-14 in the first half from beyond the arc, and closed the first half on a 13-5 run.
Temple flipped the game in the second half and survived a possible upset.
Keys to the game
After shooting 50% from three in the first half, Rider made just one of its 10 three-point attempts in the second half. In Temple’s 21-0 run, the Broncs turned the ball over three times and missed 10 consecutive shots. Rider finished shooting 32.9% from the field (24-of-73).
Moore, who hit crucial shots in Temple’s comeback, finished with a team-high 15 points and was 5-of-10 from three-point range. It was his highest scoring game since he scored 22 in a 76-69 loss to Maryland on Nov. 28.
Perry exited the game early in the first half after taking an elbow to the face while making an impressive block on Rider’s Dimencio Vaughn. McKie said Perry’s tooth went through his lip. With bandages on his face and a mouthguard, Perry came back in the second half and made two threes, an alley-oop dunk, and two blocked shots.
“Dre’s probably one of our toughest dudes on our team," said Moore. "There’s never a doubt in my mind that he’s going to fight for us. Everybody on this team knew he was going to come back and play.”
“I like being the bully," said McKie. “And I told the guys at halftime that they’re pushing us around. We’ve got to fight back. And I think we did a good job of fighting back.”
After starting each game this season, junior center Justyn Hamilton was healthy but did not play against Rider. Temple started Forrester, who was dominant in the first half offensively and finished with 14 points and four rebounds while shooting 7-of-9 from the field. Forrester will likely start at center going forward, but the Owls also saw great production from forward Arashma Parks. The redshirt freshman grabbed three offensive rebounds and scored 6 important second-half points.
Once again, Josh Pierre-Louis served as the spark plug off the bench for Temple. He knocked down 5-of-8 shots, including two threes, in a 12-point afternoon. His steal and layup capped the 21-0 run, and he displayed his quickness on a couple drives to the basket. When Temple is sloppy offensively, Pierre-Louis is able to open up some scoring avenues.