Temple Owls

Temple's tourney hopes take yet another hit

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Temple's tourney hopes take yet another hit


STORRS, Conn. -- Jalen Adams scored 25 points and dished out eight assists as UConn upset Temple 72-66 in the Huskies final home game of the season on Wednesday night.

Terry Larrier added 13 points for Connecticut (14-16, 7-10 American), which shot 37 percent from the floor, but made 11 3-pointers.

Obi Enechionyia had 15 points to lead Temple (16-13, 8-9), which has lost three of its last four to fall a half game behind UCF into seventh place in the conference standings. Shizz Alston had 13 points, but made five of his 15 attempts from the floor. Quinton Rose was 5 of 20 and had 11 points.

Temple led by two points at halftime, but UConn opened the second half with a 10-0 run to lead 42-34.

Temple, which shot 36 percent for the game, made just four of their first 20 shots after intermission.

The Owls trailed 51-42, before going on a run of their own. A layup by Nate Pierre-Louis tied the game at 56 with just over four minutes to play. But UConn did not relinquish the lead.

A layup from Adams put the Huskies up 68-62 with 34 seconds to play. That forced Temple to foul the rest of the way and UConn made their free throws.

Big picture
Temple: The Owls are 8-4 over their last 12 games, but their only losses prior to Wednesday had come to No. 9 Cincinnati, No. 16 Wichita State and a 22-win Houston team.

UConn: It was the final home game for five players, including Larrier, a transfer from VCU who still has a year of eligibility remaining after missing most of last season with a knee injury. Larrier, who played without the mask that had protected a broken sinus wall for the last eight games, says he's not coming back and will try to play professionally next season.

Up next
Temple: The Owls close the regular season on Sunday at Tulsa.

UConn: The Huskies end the regular season on Sunday at No. 25 Houston.

Temple easily cruises past UCF

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Temple easily cruises past UCF


Quinton Rose scored 19 points and Shizz Alston Jr. scored 13 and Temple beat Central Florida 75-56 on Sunday in a game it never trailed.

Temple (16-12, 8-8 American) built a 16-0 start with Steve Leonard making two 3-pointers and Obi Enechionyia and Josh Brown adding 3s. A.J. Davis' 3 with 12:39 before halftime served as UCF's (17-11, 8-8) first basket of the game as the Knights missed their first six shots, two free throws and turned it over three times.

The Owls were up 33-20 at halftime and led by double figures the entire second half. Nate Pierre-Louis scored 11 for Temple and J.P. Moorman II grabbed 10 rebounds. Temple shot 52 percent (29 of 56) including 9 of 20 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Davis led the Knights with 18 points and UCF shot 16 of 50 from the field.

Temple's NCAA tourney hopes take a crushing blow

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Temple's NCAA tourney hopes take a crushing blow


Whether it was simply coachspeak or the dawning realization that his team now has only one entry point into the NCAA Tournament, Fran Dunphy made a short but forceful declaration following Temple’s 80-59 loss to Houston on Sunday.

“We’ve got to win every game we play from here on in,” the Owls head coach said. “That’s the only thing we can do.”

Indeed, at this point, anything short of a perfect run through the American Athletic Conference tournament — which begins on March 8th following the Owls’ final three regular-season games — will likely relegate Temple to the NIT or worse.

The Cougars (21-5, 11-3 American) made sure of that by completely dominating the Owls (15-12 7-8) on their home court to suck the life out of the Liacouras Center — and Temple’s fading NCAA hopes.

“We never let them breathe,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. 

Houston has now won five straight to join nationally ranked Wichita State and Cincinnati atop the conference, making it increasingly likely that only those three squads will represent the American at the Big Dance. 

Temple, despite a conference record hovering around .500, had been making a nice push to join the party thanks to a potent strength of schedule, a couple of impressive November non-conference wins over Auburn and Clemson, and a recent five-game winning streak that included an overtime upset of Wichita State.

But after losing to the Shockers in a rematch on Thursday, the Owls likely needed to win out and then win at least a couple of more games in the AAC tournament to have a realistic shot of an at-large NCAA berth.

Houston ruined that by scoring the game’s first 15 points and never taking its foot off the gas from there en route to Sunday’s lopsided win.

“I think we came out really flat,” said Nate Pierre-Louis, who led the Owls with 13 points after watching the poor start from the bench. “I think we came out underestimating them. And they came out guns blazing, making everything. If we want to push forward, we can’t start out like that at all.”

Dunphy, who could be feeling some heat if Temple misses the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five years, had a hard time explaining what went wrong. But he didn’t make excuses, whether it was the team having trouble with its charter flight leaving Wichita (“You figure it out, suck it up and do a better job”) or bouncing back in general from an emotionally draining game there (“[Houston] had a great win at home against Cincinnati, so they were probably more susceptible to a letdown than we were”).

He also didn’t hide from the fact that there wasn’t enough effort from his players.

“We were a step slow all day long,” Dunphy said. “We had decent rest, we worked hard enough, [assistant coach] Chris Clark had us very well prepared for the x-and-o piece. We were just slow all day.”

In no way was that more magnified than in Houston’s 53-22 rebounding advantage, including a 17-5 edge on the offensive end. The Cougars' 53 rebounds matched a Liacouras Center record.

When asked about that, Sampson pointed out that he recently learned his team was among the shortest in the nation. Clearly, though, their hunger makes up for that fact.

“I guess we’re short but it never crossed my mind that it mattered,” the Houston coach said. “What’s that old saying? If size were important, what happened to the dinosaurs?”

Dunphy had a less philosophical (and probably more scientifically accurate) approach to the rebounding discrepancy.

“We were just not disciplined enough on the rebounding side,” the Temple coach said. “They played very well, and obviously we didn’t play very well at all.”

Sadly for Temple fans, the Owls have had a few games this year when they didn’t play well. They’ve also had games where they’ve looked like world-beaters, making this a particularly maddening season.

So whether the Owls close the regular season strong and make a run in the conference tournament or crash out in the first round is anyone’s guess, really. But even after Sunday’s brutal loss, sophomore Quinton Rose forecasted some optimism as the up-and-down 2017-18 campaign winds down.

“I think we’re at our best when we have our backs against the wall,” said Rose, who scored 13 on Sunday. “So I have no doubt we can make a good run."