By Annie Ross

Temple seems to thrive in close games this season:

Twelve of the Owls’ games have been decided by five or fewer points including three buzzer-beaters.

So when Tulane’s Cameron Reynolds hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 78-77 with 32 seconds left, it was a no-biggie.

So Shizz Alston hit two free-throws and Temple hung on for an 82-77 win in the first-round of the American Athletic Conference tourney in Orlando.

“Just having that experience, we go over late-game situations in practice all the time but it’s different when it’s in a game and that’s when you really get the experience,” said forward Obi Enechionyia, who led all scorers for Temple with 19 points. “Just having that experience in those last-game situations and knowing what to do and how to keep a lead definitely helps.”

Temple rallied from a nine-point first-half lead to pull out the victory. The Owls (17-14, 9-10 AAC) move on to face second-seed Wichita State tonight at 7 p.m.

Temple quickly found itself playing catch up throughout much of the first half thanks in part to shooting a dismal 14 percent from the floor in the beginning.

But Tulane would go through struggles of its own including a four-minute stretch without a field goal midway through the first half. This would allow the Owls to slice the lead to 18-12 before a media timeout at 11:49. It was one of several stretches in the half where the Green Wave would go completely cold from the field.

Temple would take advantage, surging to its first lead of the game at 30-28 with 4:14 left in the half thanks to a well-timed three-pointer by redshirt senior guard Josh Brown.

The Owls would finish the half on a 19-11 run in the final seven minutes aided by four Tulane turnovers to grab a 39-35 halftime lead.

Temple didn’t let up on the gas after intermission, hitting three of its first four field goals to push the lead to 12 with 17:48 left in the game. During a 10 minute stretch between the first and second halves, the Owls would make seven three-pointers to push the lead to 12.