What a difference it made for Temple to have its key players stay on the floor in the second half after first-half foul trouble. It made even more of a difference that Shizz Alston played big minutes both halves.
With Alston scoring a career-high 31 points in 37 minutes, 30 seconds, Temple beat Massachusetts, 65-63, in Wednesday’s nonconference game at the Liacouras Center.
Alston scored 18 points in the first half, after which Temple (8-2) trailed, 37-27. He shot 6-for-9 from the field, while his teammates were a combined 3-for-18.
“They were scoring a lot in the first half and Q [Quinton Rose] had two fouls, Nate [Pierre-Louis] had two and Dre [De’Vondre Perry] had two, so I tried my best to keep us in [the game],” Alston said.
The Owls were playing their first game in a week, since suffering a 69-59 loss at Villanova.
Temple would trail by as many 13 points early in the second half before coming back.
Rose, limited to eight first-half minutes with the two fouls, scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half.
“We were down 10, I came out aggressive and made my first couple of shots and it was pretty good," Rose said.
While Pierre-Louis was held to seven points, the 6-foot-4 sophomore spent much of the game on high-scoring guard Luwane Pipkins. Averaging 20.5 points entering the game, Pipkins scored 12, points, shooting 3-for-15 from the field, including 1-for-8 from three-point range.
"Nate probably had the biggest role in trying to deny him because because he [Pipkins] is such a good playmaker and terrific scorer,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “That really helped us.”
Neither team shot well from beyond the arc with UMass 5-for-24 and Temple 2-for-18.
Leading 64-61, Temple fouled Keon Clergeot with 5.1 seconds left. Clergeot hit both ends of the one-and-one. Alston was then fouled and made one of two free throws with 4.3 seconds remaining, increasing the lead to 65-63. Alston then secured the win with a steal at midcourt.
Early in the game, UMass 6-foot-11 graduate student Rashaan Holloway, a product of South Jersey’s Schalick High, left the game for good and was on the bench with an ice pack on his left ankle.
UMass (6-5) was coming off an impressive 79-78 win at Providence, so the Owls knew they would face a major challenge.
The Minutemen showed that same form in the first half against Temple, but not the second. UMass committed 12 of its 19 turnovers over the final 20 minutes. Those mistakes, plus failing to deal with Alston in both halves, were their undoing.