Coming off two one-point losses, Temple (5-5) refused to lose for a third time in a row. The Owls defeated the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (4-7) at the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center with ease and authority, 101-65.
“It was a good statement win really for our team and Temple University,” said senior guard Dalton Pepper, who led the way with 26 points and 10 rebounds. ““Two one-point losses, they hurt us real bad and we were upset about it. So coming out today strong really helped us on the court.”
LIU held an early 9-5 lead, but back-to-back buckets by Temple’s Quenton Decosey jumpstarted the Owls’ offense. The Owls went on a 16-4 run to take a 21-13 lead with 8:25 remaining, and from then on the Blackbirds never stood much of a chance.
The Owls continued to bombard the Blackbirds with jumpers from Pepper and junior guard Will Cummings to take a 38-22 lead into halftime.
Temple’s shooting barrage did not let up in the second half as the Owls’ advantage continuously grew, eventually reaching 45 points at the 4:22 mark.
Pepper scored his game-high 26 points on red-hot, 10-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Cummings was also phenomenal with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including a trio of three-pointers, and six assists.
“I was just feeding off of Dalton, that’s what really was happening,” Cummings said.
Decosey added 19 points while junior forward Anthony Lee had 10 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes.
In a homecoming, New York native Daniel Dingle posted 12 points, four assists, and three blocks.
“[Dingle] is doing things we need him to do like rebound the ball and pass,” Cummings said. “We always stress to him to just play with confidence and stay aggressive.”
Defensively, Temple held LIU Brooklyn’s offense, the best in the NEC, to 28.8% shooting.
Senior point guard Jason Brickman, the nation’s leader in assists, was held to only six dimes.
“[The Owls] didn’t let [Brickman] get the ball back, so anytime he gave the ball up he couldn’t get it back. That kind of stagnated our offense,” Perri said. “They really covered the perimeter well and they followed him to the basket. … It got us a little flustered and it got a little whacked out, especially in the first half.”
LIU’s defense, which entered Saturday ranked No. 349 in the nation out of 351, allowed 1.44 points per possession. The Blackbirds are yet to hold an opponent under one point per possession this season.
The Blackbirds’ perimeter defense, which has been a strength relative to its other defensive parts, struggled mightily as the Owls converted 15-of-27 three-pointers. They also lost the battle inside, 38-20.
Temple will look to carry this momentum into its American Athletic Conference opener at Rutgers on New Year’s Day.
LIU will have one week to fix its defensive problems before facing a tough Sam Houston State team on Dec. 28.
All advanced statistics are courtesy of KenPom.