Fans flocked to the Liacouras Center on a frigid Friday night to watch their Temple Owls upend the Loyola (MD.) Greyhounds 81 to 67 in what proved to be a wire-to-wire victory for the Owls. The Owls were powered by their two high-scoring guards in Shizz Alston Jr. (18 points) and Quinton Rose (16 points), who combined for 34 points.
Rose also recorded a career-high six assists to go along with six rebounds, two steals, and a block.
“It felt good,” a reserved Alston Jr. said as he took the podium for his postgame presser.
“It’s a nice game to get us ready for Brooklyn next week…We came out strong and it felt good to get on somebody early.”
Rose shared the same sentiment as Alston Jr, as his confidence in securing the win never wavered despite Loyola threatening to make things more than interesting as they ended the first half with a 7-0 run.
“We were pretty confident we were in control most of the game,” Rose said. “I felt confident we were going to come out with the win… Just needed to clean up a few things.”
The duo’s efforts were aided by guard Nate Pierre-Louis as he chipped in with 16 points, including two made three-pointers.
Loyola’s Brent Holcombe was a bright spot for the Greyhounds in a tough road loss, as he pioneered Loyola’s spirited run. Holcombe finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists, a performance that drew high praise from Dunphy.
Loyola's Brent Holcombe has changed the entire outlook of this half for them. A lanky, 6'7 forward that has the strength + finesse to post and is comfortable making plays on the block.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) November 17, 2018
“He was terrific… We saw that on film. He’s a real good basketball player. I’m impressed with him.”
Holcombe (+1) was one of two Loyola players to register a positive +/- in the loss, with the other being Sam Horton (+7). Temple’s defense was able to stymie Loyola’s starters, with the bulk of the Greyhounds’ offensive production coming from their bench, who poured in 38 points.
Temple raced out to a 23-6 start in the first half thanks to a 16-0 scoring run to begin the contest, with many of their baskets coming off of Loyola miscues.
The Greyhounds turned over the ball 12 times in the first half, which the Owls were able to convert into 12 points, most of which came around the basket.
“Because we turned them over as much as we did, we were able to get some easy baskets… I thought we had some pretty good fast break opportunities,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said in his postgame presser.
Temple ended up finishing the victory with 22 points off of turnovers, a mark that left Dunphy very content.
Dunphy wants to continue to see his Owls ratchet up the intensity defensively, and use that end of the floor to set the entire tone for them as a team.
“We hope we can be a solid team defensively, and turn some teams over… Obviously, the numbers speak for themselves.”
Many of the Owls’ baskets were of the easy variety, with an emphasis on attacking in transition and making the paint their main area of focus.
The Owls got up early on the Greyhounds and never trailed. The 14-point rout was Temple’s fourth straight win and completed their season-opening home stand with a perfect record.
A tough road stretch looms as Temple will play their next four games away from the Liacouras Center. Temple’s road slate kicks off on Monday, Nov. 19 as they’ll have a showdown with VCU, and is capped off with a battle vs. crosstown rival Villanova.
As the Owls prepare to embark on the road, Dunphy wants to continue to see a sharp defensive effort, as well as an uptick in offensive efficiency from his ballclub.
“We have to play terrific defense, and can’t give up any easy baskets,” Dunphy said when asked how his team will manage to find success on the road. “We’ve got to move the basketball and be more efficient on the offensive end.
Dunphy also acknowledged how his team has benefitted by playing from the comfy confines of home, and that venturing away from Philadelphia is sure to present it’s challenges.
“You like the fact that we’re winning, but it was four home games and now we’ve got to go out on the road. Obviously, we’re off to a great start.”
The last time the Owls started 4-0 in 2016, they clinched an NCAA Tournament berth, something this year’s squad hopes is imminent. Rose certaintly thinks it’s feasible for Temple to go dancing, and cites the closeness of this group as one of the main reasons why.
“Game by game we’re getting closer and closer… We’re starting to buy-in defensively.”
Aside from strong play on the court, Dunphy thinks these Owls are being powered by great leadership, something the team looks to Alston Jr. and Ernest Aflakpui for.
“Shizz has been terrific, Ernest has been terrific… In addition to being good leaders, they’re very good teammates. I’m very pleased with them.”
Temple’s contest against VCU will take place at a neutral site, while Loyola shifts focus to their game against the University of Detroit on Monday.
Written by BJ Boyer and Max Mangigan