As good as Temple's talented backcourt is, Fran Dunphy knows his team isn't at its best without post production.
That was evident enough as Temple held off St. Joseph's, 81-78, in their yearly Big Five showdown at the Liacouras Center on Saturday afternoon.
After the guards gave Temple a comfortable lead, Owls junior center Ernest Aflakpui stepped up in the second half, finishing with a season-high 12 points and six rebounds.
A 6-foot-9 junior out of Archbishop Carroll, Aflakpui has started all eight games at center this season, though he was averaging just 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds entering the St. Joe's matchup. He had exactly three points and two boards at halftime, which saw Temple up, 40-29, thanks to a hot start by junior guard Shizz Alston Jr.
Aflakpui scored four more times in the second half, three of which came on second-chance opportunities. He scored nine of Temple's 26 points during the first 13 minutes of the second half, a stretch during which the Owls were having some offensive troubles.
"I think it was very critical for me to crash the glass because we knew they didn't have any post presence; they try to play five out," Aflakpui said. "I did that, and got a couple and-ones to help our team."
The Hawks (4-5, 0-2 Big Five) made it close at the end after trailing by 16 with 5 minutes, 25 seconds remaining, going on a 14-2 spurt to get within four in the game's final 90 seconds.
Temple's Josh Brown went 5-of-6 from the foul line in the game's final 33 seconds to finish it off.
The win is the second in a row for Temple (6-2, 1-1), which shot 28-of-67 (41.8 percent) overall and 11-of-28 (39.3 percent) from deep, but committed just six turnovers.
Alston, who entered Saturday shooting 18-of-35 (51.4 percent) from three-point range, was 5 for 8 from deep (7 for 15 overall) to finish with a game-high 20 points. Quinton Rose added 15 points and 11 rebounds for Temple on 6-of-13 shooting; Brown (13 points) and Aflakpui joined them in double figures.
The Hawks, who shot 27 of 60 (45 percent) overall and 12 of 27 (44.4 percent) from three, but were just 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) from the foul line, were paced by 18 points from Shavar Newkirk. Junior wing Chris Clover added 17 while senior James Demery and freshman Taylor Funk had 15 each.