The Temple Owls fell to the Cincinnati Bearcats 55-53 on a buzzer beater from Jacob Evans with one second left. The Owls, who have dropped four straight, dropped their record to (7-7) and (0-3) in AAC conference play. Cincinnati, who is ranked 19th in the country, beat Temple twice last season, so there was should have been motivation to knock off Temple’s first ranked opponent of the season.
So, coming into this game Temple lost their first two conference games, one against Tulane, and another against Houston. In both these games, they allowed the opposition to go on large runs. Also, the Owls have shot 27% from three during the three-game losing streak. Fran Dunphy has to put his players in successful positions on the court. That, unfortunately, was not the case tonight after another loss.
Full recap. https://t.co/W4vFlbIF63
— Temple Men's BBall (@TUMBBHoops) January 5, 2018
Before we break down the game and get to the negative aspects, let’s look at some positives we saw from the team. First, Temple is dead last in offensive rebounding out of all the AAC teams. Last night, they were able to match a tough, gritty Cincinnati team with 17 offensive rebounds. This led to 17 second-chance points for the Owls. Center, Ernest Aflakpui, had an excellent game with three offensive rebounds of his own all turning into second-chance points.
A second positive was every one was engaged. Temple had 10 steals that helped turn the aggressive defense into easy offensive transition points. Also, the Owls turned the ball over 11 times compared to the Bearcats 16 turnovers. For 80% of this game, Temple looked like the ranked team as they were playing efficiently and aggressively.
Now, as for the first half, the Owls were able to contain the Bearcats and were led by senior forward Obi Enechionyia with 8 first-half points and great defense down low. The Owls got out to a 22-16 lead with back to back buckets by Shizz Alston Jr. He had been struggling to find his shot but scored eight straight points. So, combined Obi Enechionyia and Shizz Alston Jr shot 65% of Temples first-half points.
Quinton Rose, Temple’s best player, was held scoreless until 5:32 left in the second half when he scored to put the Owls up 50-43. This is where the game got intense as the Bearcats showed the country why they are the ranked team and Temple is NIT bound. Gary Clark scored four points in a row to cut the lead to 50-49 Owls with 2:21 left in the second.
A big three by Nate Washington of Cincinnati put the Bearcats up 52-50 with around a minute left. Temple, once again blew a seven-point lead and the Bearcats went on a 9-0 run.
Then the unexpected accord. The national media is still talking about this today as head coach of Temple, Fran Dunphy, tossed his water bottle onto the court out of frustration with an offensive foul. Temple got called for an illegal screen and coach lost his composure. That gave Cincinnati two free throws and they hit one of them to put them up 53-50 with 0.32 seconds left. A head coach, who has been around for over 30 years, cannot act like a child in that situation. This was the reason that the Owls lost in the end.
But there was hope as Alani Moore got fouled on a three-pointer and he went to the line to hopefully tie it up. He did hit all of his free throws and it was dead even 53-53 with 0.18 seconds remaining.
It all came down to the last shot and Jacob Evans hit a mid-range jumper to end the game. If it was not for Fran Dunphy getting that technical, the Owls would have had a chance to snap their three-game losing streak. This describes the Owls season in a nutshell. I would like to see Temple move in a different direction next year and give the keys to Aaron Mckie as the new head coach. I am so disappointed in the way this season has fallen apart and the head coach is a huge part of the issue.