NEW YORK (AP) Little had gone right for the Temple Owls before they gathered around coach Fran Dunphy during a timeout. It would have been easy for them to lament their woes.
Instead, as Shizz Alston Jr. recalled, their message to each other was cloaked in defiance.
“We’re on a big stage, we’re not going out like this,” Alston said, a few minutes after Temple completed its 89-86 win over No. 25 Florida State on Thursday in the first game of the 2016 NIT Season Tip-Off. “We want to fight back.”
Quinton Rose scored a game-high 26 points, including two free throws with 2 seconds left, Alston Jr. added 22 points and Obi Enechionyia finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for the Owls, who improved to 3-2 with their second straight win.
The win was also Temple’s third in four all-time meetings with Florida State.
Despite having four players in double-figure scoring, Florida State (4-1) lost for the first time this season.
Dwayne Bacon had 22 points for the Seminoles. Jonathan Issac tallied 19 points. Xavier Rathan-Mayes chipped in with 11 while Terance Mann had 10.
“They’re so deep,” Dunphy said about Florida State. “So athletic. They can make shots, too.”
Trailing by 12 with 9:26 left in the game, Temple went on a 15-2 run to take a 73-72 lead. The stretch began when Shawn Alston made a 3. That was followed by Rose’s putback, Enechionyia’s lay-in, two made free throws by Alston, and consecutive 3s from Alston and Damion Moore.
The Owls were able to extend their advantage to 85-80 after Enechionyia’s made 3 with 3:18 left. But Trent Forrest’s lay-in with 77 seconds cut the deficit to one, 87-86.
“They spread the floor,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of Temple’s offensive approach in the second half. “They were shooting the 3s and they spread the floor, did a great job of taking us off the dribble when they got to the foul line.
“Give them credit: They did what they had to do.”
Florida State had a chance to win, but Isaac air-balled a layup attempt with four seconds left. Rose’s two free throws sealed the win.
“We started making every shot we took,” Dunphy said.
Traditionally one of the nation’s stingiest teams, Florida State had developed an offensive potency to augment its taut defense. Entering the game, the Seminoles led the Athletic Coast Conference with a 96.8 points per game scoring average. Florida State had scored 100 or more points in four of its first six games, including exhibitions.
At the half, the Seminoles enjoyed a 41-31 advantage because of their efficient offensive attack. Florida State made 15 of 29 shots from the field in the first half, a 51.7 percent clip. For the game, the Seminoles made 33 of 60 shots from the field.
Temple was strong offensively in its own right, as the Owls shot 46.8 percent from the field for the game.
“I thought their offensive execution was better than our defensive execution,” Hamilton said.
Temple: The 2016 National Invitation Tournament Tip-Off marks the sixth time in program history that the Owls participated in the early season event. Temple’s six appearances are tied with St. John’s for second most in tournament history; Arizona and Duke have made seven appearances apiece.
Florida State: The first of two 2016 NIT Tip-Off games marked the first time since the third round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament that the Seminoles were a nationally ranked team. Following a 62-56 loss to Cincinnati in the third round, the Seminoles finished the season ranked 10th in the nation.
“I think you can come up with a philosophical theory if you want to, but they just had a great night. They did a very good job. I’m sure they’re hoping they shoot the ball that well for the remainder of the year. I’m hoping we don’t defend as poorly as we did tonight and I don’t think we will,” Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, in response to a question regarding his concern about the Seminoles’ defense.
Temple: Will meet the winner of the West Virginia/Illinois game in the NIT Championship game Friday.
Florida State: Will meet the loser of the West Virginia/Illinois game in the NIT Consolation game Friday.
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