An all-but-certain victory was snatched away from Wichita State by another star player in the American Athletic Conference.
Much like Shake Milton last year in SMU’s stunning win at Koch Arena, Shizz Alston Jr. lifted the Temple Owls to an 85-81 overtime victory over the Shockers at Koch Arena on Sunday.
This was a game WSU led by as many as 15 points, and by 11 with 3:35 remaining in regulation. But the Owls’ late flurry capped by Alston’s floater in the lane tied the score with 37 seconds left. In overtime, Alston hit two devastating step-back jumpers and a pair of free throws late to clinch the victory for Temple.
WSU (7-7) lost just its sixth game at Koch Arena in the last six seasons, suffered its first three-game losing streak since 2015 and its first 0-2 conference start since 2009. Markis McDuffie scored a game-high 24 points with seven rebounds, while Samajae Haynes-Jones scored 22 and Dexter Dennis added 14.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Shockers committed 22 turnovers, more than double Temple’s total. Alston finished with 22 points, while Nate Pierre-Louis added 21 and Quinton Rose had 17.
In overtime, WSU fell behind for the first time in the game, 78-76, then Alston took over.
The senior hit a step-back jumper to push Temple’s lead to 80-77, then after McDuffie finished a follow-up in transition to cut the deficit to 80-79, Alston hit another step-back jumper, this time a three as the shot clock expired to give the Owls an 83-79 lead with 52 seconds remaining.
WSU led 74-63 with 3:35 remaining in regulation after McDuffie connected on a three, but the Shockers gave up an 11-0 run to end regulation and force overtime. WSU’s offense had five straight empty possessions, including the final shot, a desperation three from Dennis after waiting until eight seconds left on the shot clock to begin a pick-and-roll with Haynes-Jones and Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler.
Haynes-Jones appeared to deliver the winning stretch WSU need late in the second half.
After Temple completed a 15-point comeback and tied the score four separate times midway through the second half, Haynes-Jones took over for two minutes of brilliance.
The senior from Wichita broke a 63-all tie with back-to-back drives to the basket, then cut through Temple’s pressure, zoomed to the rim, and dished off to Poor Bear-Chandler for a basket. The next possession, Haynes-Jones burst free in transition again and scored to cap an 8-0 rally, push WSU’s lead to 71-63 and force a Temple timeout with 4:22 remaining.
A three from McDuffie pushed WSU’s lead to 74-63 with under four minutes remaining.
If the first 13 games had proved anything it’s that no lead is safe with these Shockers and that again proved to be the case after they built a 45-32 halftime lead.
It didn’t take long for Temple to make its run in the second half. The Owls had the deficit down to nine within four minutes, then a Nate Pierre-Louis steal and fastbreak dunk cut WSU’s lead to 52-47 two minutes later. After eight minutes, Quinton Rose’s layup cut WSU’s lead to 53-52 to set up a thrilling final 10 minutes.
Signs of improvement were evident in WSU’s early play.
WSU has the lowest free-throw rate in coach Gregg Marshall’s tenure this season and it was coming off a road loss Thursday where it once again let its opponent be the aggressor. On Sunday, WSU was the team forcing the issue early and it led to four Temple fouls before the first media timeout.
The Shockers established their cushion midway through the first half with a 12-2 run to build a 27-15 lead with 10:23 remaining. McDuffie’s jump shot was pure to begin the game in front of scouts from four NBA organizations at the game. He even had some luck on his side as the run was capped when McDuffie lost control of his dribble near the end of the shot clock, retrieved the ball in the corner and swished a fade-away three-pointer.
Jaime Echenique had the Koch Arena crowd roaring when he forced a jump ball, then started screaming and motioning to the crowd to make noise. Minutes later, Haynes-Jones turned the corner on a pick-and-roll, ball-faked the help defender out of the way, then finished with a soft touch over the trailing big for a layup.
After Temple trimmed the deficit to nine, WSU forced Temple coach Fran Dunphy to burn his third timeout of the first half to stop the momentum from a 6-0 spurt highlighted by freshman post Poor Bear-Chandler.
It started when Poor Bear-Chandler finished an athletic one-handed put-back, then ended when Poor Bear-Chandler slipped a screen for McDuffie and the senior hit Poor Bear-Chandler in stride and he finished smoothly on the left side for a 45-30 lead. Poor Bear-Chandler had six points and five rebounds in nine first-half minutes.
Before the game, Wichita State honored Dunphy, who is retiring at the end of this season after his 30th season of being a head coach. Dunphy’s 567 career wins rank in the top-50 all-time among Division I head coaches.
The Shockers will have nearly a week off before heading to undefeated Houston for a road trip on Saturday.