The Tigers (12-1, 2-0) used a relentless defensive pressure to keep coming at the Greenwave (6-9, 0-5), who led until the 1:12 mark of the fourth quarter when senior forward Roderick Bass dropped in a bucket to give Temple a lead it would never surrender down the stretch.
“We want to pride ourselves on making games on the floor. You know, moving our feet and playing defense. Just making stops as opposed to depending on making shots. Shots are going to go in, shots are not going to go in. That’s something that you can’t control. But you can control the intensity of the defense, you can control your movement. And everybody bought in [Friday]. But everybody buys into the system,” Temple coach Steve Robinson said.
Following Bass’ bucket, Temple got an Anthony Ross free throw off a missed Spencer foul shot with 1:06 remaining. Ross hit his first attempt and missed the second, and the scramble for the loose ball went out of bounds to Spencer. On the ensuing in-bounds pass, Temple’s Kordell Parson stole the ball and got it back to Ross, who was fouled again with 1:03 remaining.
Ross missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Tiger junior forward Trevor Shell was there for the putback, making it a four-point Temple edge.
In the final minute, Temple’s defense held Spencer to a Rahmel Moten free throw with 47.6 seconds left. Moten’s bucket with 13.7 seconds left was pretty much a non-factor after the Tigers had already built their lead to eight points by that time.
And on a night where the Tigers’ shots weren’t falling for the better part of four quarters, team hustle and a never-say-die attitude carried it to a hard-fought win.
“That’s like the biggest compliment that I can ever get for my team is that they’re making hustle plays and they hustle. We talk about hustling and we live and die by hustling. It’s just the name of the game. I tell those guys all the time, ‘If you hustle, you’re going to get tired. If you ain’t tired, then you ain’t hustling.’ Teams that win are the ones that hustle when they’re tired. So that was important that we didn’t falter. We were hustling when we were tired not knowing what the outcome of the game was going to be. We were just committed to hustling,” Robinson said.
Robinson said with the team goals he has set out, the Tigers are going to have to learn to win games like Friday’s when things aren’t necessarily going their way.
“It just showed a whole lot of resiliency for those guys to not give up because they were behind,” Robinson said. “We knew what we were getting into. That’s probably one of the most athletic teams on our schedule. And we just came to play. We just stuck together.
“That’s a good team, Spencer. They play everybody tough. But I’m just proud we were able to pull it out.”
Bass paced the Tigers with a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Shell also finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points with 12 boards. Javarius Montgomery also reached double figures with 12 points and Ross chipped in 10 points and five rebounds and DeiJon Tyler posted eight points.
Moten led all scorers with 22 points for Spencer.
And after a night where they spent a lot of energy in the comeback, the Tigers have a quick turnaround for a 4:30 p.m. road contest today at Jordan (15-1, 4-0) — the No. 1 team in Class AA.
“We’ve got a nice road trip. We’ve got to go see those guys down in Jordan. You know, the Red Jackets. We’re just going to do what we do. Tip the ball off and do our thing. We’re not going to try to be somebody we’re not. We’re going to be the same team that we are and just go out and try to do what we do and let the chips fall where they may,” Robinson said.
Spencer girls 63, Temple 40: The Lady Tigers (1-12, 0-2) got off to an 18-10 lead midway through the second quarter, but Spencer (3-13, 1-4) used an 8-1 run at the end of the half to pull within 19-18 at the break and carried that momentum over into the second half.
Spencer dominated Temple on the glass in the second half, getting second and third-chance opportunities throughout the final 16 minutes to outscore the Lady Tigers, 19-9, in the third quarter and 26-12 in the fourth to pull away with the 23-point win.
“We were sluggish in the second half with rebounding on defense. They were getting second and third opportunities. They were physical with us down low and we couldn’t hold up toward the end and that’s the difference in the game,” Temple girls coach Rhett Parson said.
Charmin Moore led Temple with 15 points and six rebounds, while Dana Peppers added nine points and 10 boards and Marche’ Willis finished with seven points and six rebounds.
Alexus Griffin led a balanced Spencer attack with 10 points and six rebounds, while three players finished with nine points, one had eight and another scored seven. Kadacia Merritt led Spencer with a game-high 14 rebounds.
Parson said while the second half was tough, he is seeing promise from his squad.
“I ain’t been easy on them. I really think they’re persevering through it all and soaking up every little piece of information that we give them. We’ve just got to get them to keep playing hard. To execute what we practice. They’re showing signs of getting there,” Parson said.