Temple’s bench players sat with their arms linked together nervously watching as the clock ticked down with 30 seconds left to play on Saturday in Miami.
The Owls led by 25 points with nine minutes, 11 seconds left to play but allowed DePaul University to go on a 20-2 run to cut its deficit to five points with 31 seconds to play.
Temple drew three fouls with less than 30 seconds left to build its lead up to nine points and leave the Hoophall Invitational with a 74-65 win.
Two members of the Owls’ backcourt could not be on the floor in the final minutes. Freshman guard Alani Moore II hurt his ankle in practice a few days ago, according to ESPNU’s TV broadcast and senior guard Josh Brown fouled out with 4:15. He finished with 11 points, eight steals and five assists in his first start of the season.
With 7:41 left to play, DePaul started chipping away at its 24-point deficit. DePaul sophomore guard Eli Cain hit a jump shot and junior forward Joe Hanel had second-chance baskets on the Blue Demons’ next two trips down the floor. DePaul went on a 20-2 run starting with Hanel’s tip-in with 7:04 left.
DePaul scored 20 points in the paint in the second half, compared to eight in the first half. Cain who led all scorers with 17 points, 11 of which came in the second half. Senior guard Billy Garrett Jr. scored 15 points on the day.
The Owls also committed 13 fouls in the second half, which contributed to DePaul’s comeback. The Blue Demons made 24-of-32 free throw attempts.
DePaul outrebounded Temple 44-34. One of the biggest game changers happened behind the 3-point arc. The Blue Demons were 1-for-15 on the day, while the Owls were 9-for-20 from 3-point range.
Brown fouled Garrett Jr. 15 seconds into the game. Garrett made 1-of-2 free throws to give DePaul its only lead. The Blue Demons didn’t score again for nearly six minutes.
Junior forward Obi Enechionyia started Temple’s 13-0 run when he hit a 3-pointer 29 seconds into the first half. That run set the tone for momentum that would continue early into the second half. Temple led DePaul in all categories going into halftime. Not only could DePaul not make a basket, but their defense also couldn’t catch up to Temple’s fast-paced offense.
Enechionyia and sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. led Temple in scoring with 15 points each. Freshman guard Quinton Rose also scored in double figures with 12 points. Senior guard Mike Robbins scored a career-high eight points and played a career-high 20 minutes.
Freshman center Damion Moore, who earned his first-career start in place of sophomore center Ernest Aflakpui, and Alston led the Owls with seven rebounds each.
This was Temple’s first time facing DePaul in nearly 15 years. The Owls are now 4-2 against the Blue Demons.
Temple will be back in action on Tuesday, when it will be competing for the Big 5 title against undefeated Villanova, the No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25.
Tessa Sayers can be reached at email@example.com.