Temple had the last shot, and it held a lot of responsibility.
The Owls put together arguably their greatest half of the season to come back from 17 points down in the second half against SMU and lead by three with less than 30 seconds to play. With the game tied at 80 and 8.9 seconds on the clock, head coach Aaron McKie gave the responsibility to senior wing Quinton Rose. He grabbed the inbounds pass, took a few dribbles, and rushed a jumper that hit rim.
With the miss fresh in his mind, Rose took the court in overtime with determination. He knocked down three contested jumpers in three straight possessions before sinking a three that sent the Liacouras Center into a frenzy. With a second chance presented, Rose took full advantage to give the Owls to a 97-90 win over SMU in overtime on Saturday.
Temple (12-11, 4-7 American Athletic Conference) dug itself another deep hole in the first half as fundamental mistakes on offense and lights-out shooting by SMU (16-6, 6-4) built what was at one point a 44-25 lead. Temple shot just 2-of-11 from three in the first half and 3-of-9 from the free-throw line. SMU was a machine, hitting open threes mechanically.
But the Owls were the hot-shooting team in the second half, hitting six of their seven attempted threes and shooting 17-of-25 from the field overall. Josh Pierre-Louis and Monty Scott, guards off the bench in their first seasons on North Broad, led the way, while senior point guard Alani Moore finished a few crucial possessions with threes.
Rose led the Owls with 25 points, also becoming the American Athletic Conference’s all-time leading scorer with a basket in overtime. Scott finished with a season-high 22 points. Kendric Davis led SMU with 23 points but fouled out in overtime.
Temple showed its first sign of life on Saturday afternoon with just more than 10 minutes to play in regulation. The Owls held SMU scoreless for nearly five minutes while embarking on a 12-0 run, capped by Pierre-Louis’ second three to make it a three-point game. Scott hit a flurry of clutch jumpers to keep Temple close when the Mustangs started scoring again, and Moore’s three gave Temple its first lead with less than a minute to play.
Moore, Scott, and Pierre-Louis combined to shoot 15-of-23 from the field and contribute 45 points. Temple was without forward J.P. Moorman and guard De’Vondre Perry, both dealing with foot injuries. Scott said he knew he had to step up in the absence of their shooting abilities and had his best game of the season. A guard-heavy lineup led Temple’s comeback in the second half.
Temple faced man-to-man defense for much of the game despite usually battling the team’s best zone defenses. SMU switched to a zone in overtime, and Rose found an opening in the middle where he converted his most important buckets of the game.
“The miss I had, it was a bad rim. That’s a shot I practice 100 times a day,” Rose said about his shot at the end of regulation. “It didn’t go in, but I knew that wasn’t the end. I knew we’d have another fight and overtime we did.”
“I didn’t know [Moorman and Perry] weren’t playing until I got here and it kind of made me know I had to step up for the team," Scott said. “I always knew I could score and do multiple things for this team. I just never knew when the chance would come.”
Temple went into Saturday’s game with two starters injured and tournament hopes that rested on the slim chance of an AAC tournament run. Then, the Owls fell behind by 19 points in the first half against a talented SMU team and lost another player to injury in center Arashma Parks. It would have been easy, and even understandable, to lose motivation.
But Temple stayed motivated as newcomers Pierre-Louis and Scott turned the Owls’ weakness of shooting into a strength while continuing to wreak havoc defensively. Senior captains Rose and Moore then got the job done in crunch time. A win like this likely won’t matter in the long run, but it’s got to feel good for a team in the midst of a disappointing season.