BATTLE WON: Lomas, Whitley, Mawien help TC men overcome Aleu foul trouble to beat SW Christian 93-75
Updated: Feb 14
FIREPOWER IN RESERVE: Temple College freshman guard Elijah Lomas came off the bench to score a team-leading 18 points – 13 in the second half – and help the Leopards defeat Southwestern Christian 93-75 on Wednesday night at TC Gym in Temple's first Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference home game with head coach Clifton Ellis. Five other TC players scored in double figures as the Leopards moved to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the NTJCAC entering their home duel with Hill at 4 p.m. Saturday. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
Sophomore forward Aleu Aleu is a go-to player for the Temple College men's basketball team. The 6-foot-8 Texas-San Antonio signee produced 20 points and 20 rebounds in the Leopards' conference-opening 83-81 loss at Ranger last Saturday, and the slender Aleu came out hot with eight points in the first 3½ minutes of TC's league home opener Wednesday night against Southwestern Christian College.
The problem for Aleu and the Leopards was that he couldn't stay away from foul trouble. He sat out a large chunk of the first half with two and then three fouls, incurred his fourth foul only 25 seconds into the second half and, after sitting out 6 minutes, fouled out with 11:38 remaining in a game Temple led by just four points at that time.
Fortunately for the Leopards, freshman guards Elijah Lomas and Sherrod Whitley and 6-10 sophomore forward Mawien Mawien were ready and able to pick up the slack in crunch time at TC Gym.
Lomas scored 13 of his team-leading 18 points in the second half, Whitley made all four of his 3-pointers after halftime and Mawien provided an effective interior presence as Temple methodically pulled away from scrappy Southwestern Christian to earn a 93-75 victory.
The Leopards (4-1, 1-1) recorded their first Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference win with first-year head coach Clifton Ellis, the former TC point guard who was hired last April to succeed his college coach Kirby Johnson, who retired after guiding the Leopards for 33 seasons.
“I'm glad that we were able to make some adjustments and that our guys just stuck with it,” Ellis said. “That's good that we were able to win that way.”
Said Lomas: “Coach said in the huddle that we needed to rebound more. That was the key.”
Temple got 12 points apiece from Whitley and sophomore guard Khouri Perkins, 11 from sophomore point guard Tyler Watkins and 10 each from Aleu and Mawien. Watkins led the Leopards with 11 assists, while Perkins and freshman forward Maison Adeleye each dished out seven. Freshman forward Tabarius Jolly grabbed a team-high nine rebounds (seven offensive) and Adeleye and Mawien had seven apiece.
AIR CANADA: Temple College forward Mawien Mawien (32), a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, takes a jump shot over Southwestern Christian defender Jordan Mays during the first half of the host Leopards' 93-75 win over the Rams on Wednesday night at TC Gym. Moving into the lane for Temple is sophomore forward Aleu Aleu (35). Mawien and Aleu scored 10 points each as the Leopards (4-1) improved to 1-1 in conference play. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
Rugged sophomore forward Cleven Wilson scored 18 of his game-high 27 points in the second half for Southwestern Christian (1-2, 0-2 NTJCAC), whose Rams got 11 points from freshman D'Queveus Adkins and 10 from sophomore Isaiah Wyatt.
Three-point shooting was the biggest discrepancy between the two squads. Temple made eight 3-pointers in the second half and 12 overall while SWCC made only one 3 on the night, giving the Leopards a crucial 33-point advantage in that department. Leading TC's long-range charge were Whitley with four 3-pointers, Lomas with three and Watkins with two.
“Our wing players, we've got a lot of them and a lot of them can shoot the ball. We try to get them to understand that if you take care of the defensive end of the floor and you get in and rebound and take care of the little things, those offensive opportunities will come to you,” Ellis said. “That was a prime example where they stayed active on defense, they got in there and rebounded and they ran the floor. The ball found them and they were ready to score.”
The 6-5 Lomas said bringing energy and scoring punch in a reserve role is something he embraces.
“It doesn't matter if you're starting or if you're coming off the bench. You have to go hard no matter what,” said Lomas, a San Antonio Harlan graduate.
Aleu had the hot hand early. He made a 14-foot jump shot, threw down a powerful two-handed dunk and completed the three-point play and drilled a 3-pointer from the right side to stake the Leopards to a 10-4 lead with 3½ minutes gone. That momentum was short-lived, however, as the resilient Rams ripped off an 11-0 run to go ahead 15-10.
“Maybe there was a little hangover from Saturday, but I think mostly it was Southwestern guarding pretty well and we were helping them out by taking some bad shots and rebounding was an issue,” Ellis said. “When they did miss shots, we just couldn't grab them. But once we grabbed them and our offense got a little better and we were moving the ball and hitting the open man and getting open shots, obviously it made a difference and gave us some energy.”
Temple caught SWCC at 19-19 on a transition 3 by freshman guard Davion Sargent-Young, then Lomas nailed a left-corner 3 and two free throws for a 26-21 Leopards lead 6 minutes before halftime.
Hampered by foul trouble, Aleu didn't score again until his 5-footer in the lane with 3:33 remaining, and he was assessed his third foul in the first half. Perkins and Watkins followed with layups for a 34-25 advantage, then Mawien answered a brief Rams spurt by beating the first-half buzzer with a two-handed jam for a 39-34 Temple lead at intermission.
Ellis said it was challenging to navigate Aleu's playing time through the foul trouble, especially knowing how much his athletic ability and skill can impact the game.
“You're going to have games like this. Last game, he had 20 points and 20 rebounds (at Ranger). He was a presence and he kept us in the game. This game, he didn't play as well and he got in foul trouble. It is (difficult to manage),” Ellis said. “You go to him and say, 'Can I trust you to play with two (fouls)?' He was playing with two for a while and then he had one little deal where he was going for a loose ball and he got a foul. That's the way it is.
“He got his third one, and his fourth one kind of came quick. Then you're saving him and trying to get to a certain point where you can put him back in, but he picked up a couple of cheap fouls.”
Aleu absorbed his fourth foul as Wilson scored on a hard-driving basket 25 seconds into the second half, and Ellis put Aleu on the bench before Wilson completed the three-point play for a 39-39 deadlock. Whitley's first 3-pointer pushed Temple ahead 44-41, but Wyatt led a 7-0 run to put the Rams up 48-44. After 3-pointers by Watkins and Lomas made it 50-50, SWCC took its final lead at 52-50 on a Cory Hicks inside bucket with 14:42 remaining.
An 8-foot floater in the lane by Watkins gave the Leopards the lead for good at 56-54 with 13:40 left, then Aleu came back in with four fouls at the 13:28 mark. Lomas drilled a right-corner 3 to make it 59-54, but soon after that Aleu drove the left side of the lane and was called for charging, fouling out with 11:38 remaining.
“That's part of it. You've got to learn how to play without fouling,” Ellis said of Aleu. “He's an aggressive player.”
After Aleu's exit, Mawien gave Temple a boost as his deft passes set up Adeleye's two free throws and an inside basket by Perkins for a 63-55 lead with 10:19 left. The 270-pound Mawien then bulled in to make a left-handed layin for a 65-58 game.
“I really thought Mawien made a difference for us tonight. Just his presence around the basket defensively forced a couple tough shots,” Ellis said of Mawien, who's from Calgary, Alberta and transferred from Canada's Mount Royal University to TC at the beginning of this semester. “Throwing him the ball in the post, he made some good decisions when he caught it. We've got to have an inside presence.”
Back-to-back baskets by Wilson and Wyatt trimmed Temple's edge to 65-62 at the 7:24 mark, but the Leopards didn't allow the Rams to get any closer. Lomas cut in to score off an inbound pass, then Whitley made a left-corner 3 for a 71-62 game. A minute later, Lomas battled to snare an offensive rebound, made the putback basket off the glass and added the free throw for a 74-64 TC lead with 5:30 remaining.
Two more corner 3-pointers by Whitley wrapped around a Perkins layin off a steal sealed the first conference victory for Ellis and his Leopards.
“Each conference game is tough and is its own little story in itself. That's just the way all 14 of them are,” Ellis said. “This one was ugly but we found a way to win.”
Temple will shoot to move to 2-1 in conference on Saturday when it hosts preseason NTJCAC favorite Hill (5-2, 1-1) at 4 p.m.
“They're a good team and rebounding is always going to be big in conference games,” Ellis said. “If you're rebounding and take care of the ball, you've got a chance. We've got to play up-tempo and get up the floor and score quickly, and then we've just got to keep shoring up the rebounding.”
MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Northern Texas Junior College
Temple College 93,
Southwestern Christian College 75
SWCC (1-2, 0-2 NTJCAC) – Cleven Wilson 27, D'Queveus Adkins 11, Isaiah Wyatt 10, Trevon Stewart 9, Cory Hicks 8, Jordan Mays 4, Zelt Minor 4, Dezmond Bradley 2.
Temple (4-1, 1-1 NTJCAC) – Elijah Lomas 18, Khouri Perkins 12, Sherrod Whitley 12, Tyler Watkins 11, Aleu Aleu 10, Mawien Mawien 10, Brandon Monroe 7, Maison Adeleye 6, Davion Sargent-Young 5, Tabarius Jolly 1, Jonathan Joseph 1.
3-point goals – Southwestern Christian 1 (Adkins); Temple 12 (Whitley 4, Lomas 3, Watkins 2, Aleu 1, Monroe 1, Sargent-Young 1).
Free throws – Southwestern Christian 22-32; Temple 15-22.
Halftime score – Temple 39, Southwestern Christian 34.