PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/20/2020 – It took two overtime periods, and the Temple Owls behind a career-high 25 points by Monty Scott win a thriller over the Connecticut Huskies 93 – 89 at the Liacouras Center. Scott hit a long three-pointer with 21.8 seconds left in the first overtime to send it to a second extra period.
“I think I’m used to taking tough shots,” said Scott. “It was a hard shot, but I was confident it would go down.”
It was expected to be a close game, and it more than lived up to its billing. Exceptionally close as each team made big plays down the stretch, and survived shots that would have ended it in regulation and the first overtime. For a majority of the time each team stayed within a possession of each other. It would take resilience to come out on top and in this one, the Owls had it.
“When you turn into a winning team you are able to win those nip and tuck games because it comes down to getting the stops and getting the score, getting the stops, getting the score, and staying focused,” said Temple Coach Aaron McKie.
In each half when one team would make a run, the other would respond. It was only fitting that a last run would decide the issue, and Temple scored 7 straight in the second overtime to get a lead that Connecticut still challenged. In the last minute the Owls would get two close out of bounds calls and points from J.P. Moorman II and Aloni Moore II to ice it.
In the first half UConn got out to an early 12-point lead. Temple erased it. The Owls went up by 63 – 57 with 4:46 to play on a three by Nate Pierre-Louis, who also registered a career-high with 23 points. The Huskies came back and tied the game on a layup by Isaiah Whaley, who recorded a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds, at the 5 second mark. Scott got a last shot off that went off the rim.
At the end of the first overtime the Huskies had a three-point lead with 28.9 seconds on the clock. Scott evened it up a few seconds later. UConn had the last shot of the extra period, but Christian Vital, who led Connecticut with 21 points, got an attempt away that was off the side of the rim. That took the game to the deciding second overtime.
“We battled, but didn’t play well enough and had enough to do what we wanted to,” said Connecticut Coach Dan Hurley.
Quinton Rose scored 15 points for the Cherry and White in a different way. He was 3 of 15 from the field and made no three-pointers. However, he did make 9 of 13 free throws, and set a collegiate-mark with 4 blocked shots. Moore II made all six free throws on the way to 14 points, and he had a career-high tying 4 steals. Nate Pierre-Louis tied his career-best with 14 rebounds. Scott set a season-mark with 4 made from beyond the arc.
“It was me being more aggressive than I usually am,” Scott said. “It was an important game and I had to step up. That was my mindset going into it.”
The Owls have won their last seven overtime games.
Temple improves to 14 – 12 and is 6 – 7 in the American, a game ahead of Connecticut. The Owls have five games left, two at home. The next one is at East Carolina on Sunday. Much will depend on how well the team plays especially on offense.
“The biggest part of the game of basketball is making shots,” McKie said. “You’ve got to score the ball to win. You can play all the defense you want, you can scheme, game plan, but if you’re not making shots, it’s going to be hard. When we’re making shots, we can play with anybody.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian