PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/22/2018 – Let’s call it a special holiday treat for the college basketball fans of Philadelphia. Drexel hosted another city team in the Temple Owls. This game was at the historic Palestra. The Owls coach Fran Dunphy returned to the site where he is the winningest all-time coach in this building called the Cathedral of College Basketball.
Sidelines, off to the side. Both coaches, Zach Spiker of Drexel and Dunphy, believe the game is what matters most. In this contest the Owls behind game-high 25 from Shizz Alston, Jr. and a season-high 22 points by guards Nate Pierre-Louis and a earned an 82 – 64 win over the Dragons on the Saturday before Christmas. The Owls improve to 10 – 2, their best start since the 2012-13 season.
“We feel good about where we are, but we have a long way to go,” said Dunphy. “We have nineteen difficult games coming up. I am proud of their efforts to this point. We found a way to win ten of our first twelve games, but we need to play better.”
Pierre-Louis highlighted a run near halftime that give the Cherry and White 41 – 30 lead at intermission. Temple led 36 – 30 before Pierre-Louis hit a layup, then a shot at the buzzer just after he stepped across the mid-court line that banked home.
Later in the game Drexel pulled to within 60 – 54. The Cherry and White answered with a three-pointer by Shizz Alston, Jr., a dagger three.
“It stopped their momentum which is what I was trying to do,” said Alston, Jr.
“He made a terrific three in front of our bench,” said Dunphy about the Alston, Jr. trey. “It gave us a spread again that made us a little more comfortable.”
“We needed that field goal at that time. I was thinking about calling timeout before then. But he made the three at a critical time.”
That was followed by a short jumper by Aloni Moore II, and the accent came on a layup by Ernest Aflakpui to expand the lead to 67 – 54, and control of the game.
For the game Pierre-Louis added 9 rebounds. Quinton Rose scored 14 points which surpasses 1,000 career-points for the junior guard. Aflakpui recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
A big factor in the game was turnovers. The Dragons had 17 which gave the Owls a 27 – 2 advantage in points off turnovers.
Drexel (6 – 7) had four players score in double figures with Troy Harper leading the way with 18 points. Alihan Demir added 10 points and 10 rebounds. Carmen Wynter and James Butler contributed 10 points each in their Palestra game.
“We are playing a Philly team in a gold jersey game,” said Drexel Coach Zach Spiker. “Our guys were excited for a gold jersey game. Playing at the Palestra you look at the history. If you get caught looking at that stuff, you come out flat. I didn’t think we came out flat, we came out ready to play. At the end of the day you have to execute and compete.”
Prior to the game the fans saluted Fran Dunphy in his last Palestra game. A meaningful gesture to him.
“I think it was outstanding and so many Temple fans here which was really nice,” Dunphy said. “It was great in so many ways. It’s uncomfortable, but I am grateful for it and very much appreciate it.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian