PERRY — It took a little while for Jared Poling to find his rhythm from behind the arc for Perry.
Once he did, however, he became unstoppable.
Poling drilled six 3-pointers, one of which sent Friday’s game into overtime, as Perry knocked off Northwest Central Conference rival Temple in OT 58-51.
Poling finished the night with 25 points, shooting 7-of-15 from the field. In the fourth quarter and overtime, he was 5-of-7, with four 3’s. Poling also had nine of Perry’s 11 overtime points.
Poling wasn’t the only one putting on his best show of the season. Commodores’ big men Raheem Johnson and Tae’Quan Callahan made several big plays late in the game that all helped lead Perry.
“In the fourth quarter and overtime, they stepped up,” Perry coach Matt Tabler said. “They did what they needed to do and got rebounds for us. This is a rivalry game, and no matter if a team’s up or down, both sides are going to play hard and it’s going to be a close game. We were just fortunate to come out on the winning side tonight.”
Temple’s defense was airtight for most of the game. It allowed just four points in the second quarter and 10 more in the third, giving the offense a 36-28 advantage entering the final period.
That’s when everything began to change.
Perry’s defense, after playing well for the entire game, reached another level. It began to force more mistakes, while Temple’s shot production began to sink. The result was a 12-2 run in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.
Temple began to eat as much clock as it could, while drawing fouls with its top scorer, Justin Kroehler. Kroehler made all five of his free throw shots in the final four minutes of regulation and appeared to be setting Temple up for a narrow escape. But, Perry gave itself one more shot and made it count.
Down 47-44 with 16 seconds left, all eyes were on Poling. Even with the anticipation of his shot, Poling got a perfect feed from Bruce Hodges, and drained a 24-footer from straight on for his fifth three of the game, sending the game to overtime.
“We set it up for Bruce to drive with it,” Poling said. “He’d get a double screen off, then I’d catch it at the top of the key to shoot it. I have chills all over my body just knowing I hit that shot.”
Poling didn’t stop there. Following a huge blocked shot by Johnson, Poling got another feed and kicked overtime off with a sixth 3-pointer. Poling made four more free throws in the extra period, while Perry’s defense kept Temple from making another run.
“Coach kept telling me, ‘don’t stop, keep shooting,’” Poling said. “I finally found it in the fourth quarter and was able to knock down the big shots we needed.”
Johnson pulled off a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds to aid Perry in the win, while Callahan finished with eight points. Hodges was also solid from everywhere on the court, finishing with nine points, eight rebounds and six steals.
“We had a pretty good idea of what they were going to come with personnel wise,” Temple coach Bruce Bowman said. “We did a good job of defending them in the first half. Then in the second half, Jared Poling got going and we were trying to make adjustments along the way. The entire time, he just took it to us.”
Kroehler finished with 19 points to lead Temple’s offense, with Evan Sutton putting together a great shooting game behind him to and finishing with 15 points.
Perry improves to 4-8 on the season, and 4-1 in the NWCC. Temple’s record falls to 10-4.