PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/9/2019 – This was a significant game for the Temple Owls, playing a nationally ranked, undefeated team at home. Even more significant was that Temple upset the Houston Cougars 73 – 69 in a game that went down to the last tenths of a second to decide it.
The issue came down to the last Cougar possession. Trailing 71 – 69 with 7.3 seconds remaining Houston came up court. Corey Davis had the ball and went to the basket after not getting an open look from three. At the last instant Owls center Ernest Aflakpui planted himself outside of arc. Davis went up and the ball went through the basket. The officials called a charge with .6 ticks remaining negating the hoop. Guard Nate Pierre-Louis sank 2 free throws for the final margin of victory.
“I was supposed to clean everything up,” said Aflakpui about the deciding charge. “We ended up getting beat to the basket. Nate did a great job chasing him. I saw him coming and I just got up and took the charge.”
It was his first game-winning charge.
It was the second defensive play for the Owls that helped decide the issue. Pierre-Louis came up with a steal at the 1:19 mark and got the ball to Quinton Rose, who had a game-high 22 points, and scored on a dunk giving the Owls a 71 – 66 lead with just over 1:13 seconds to play.
“I thought our defense was good,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy. “It was a big steal at half court for us that led to an open layup which get us from three to five. That was a crazy play, and there was much good fortune in that.”
Houston got a three-pointer from Davis to get to within 2 with 36 seconds left. The Cougars got the ball back on a shot clock violation which gave them a last opportunity.
“I thought that if we could get the ball to the basket, I would take the two,” Houston Coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Davis went to the basket. The ref blows the whistle. If he calls it a block, we win. If he calls it a charge, they win.”
The game was a battle over the second half that saw 8 lead changes and 4 ties. The Owls moved in front by 65 – 56 with 7:28 on the clock on a three-pointer by J.P. Moorman II, his second of the game which tied his career-high. Temple did not score again until Pierre-Louis made 2 free throws 6 minutes later, and Rose getting the dunk off the Pierre-Louis steal. Houston got to within a single point in that stretch.
For Houston Breaon Brady led all scorers with 19 points. Davis added 11. All nine Cougars who played scored.
Pierre-Louis added 18 points and Alston, Jr. contributed 12 points and 6 assists. Rose and Pierre-Louis both went 9 for 10 from the free throw line. Aflakpui and De’Vondre Perry had a game-best 7 rebounds.
Temple improves to 12 – 3, 2 – 1 in the American. Houston is 15 – 1, 2 – 1 in conference.
The Owls will host USF on Saturday, and the team expects another close contest.
“Every night there is going to be a dogfight,” said Rose. “It’s the same thing going forward and we have to be prepared for it.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian