TUCSON, Ariz. – One of the more-storied career in men’s basketball history came to an end on Saturday as Temple fell to San Diego State in double overtime, 71-64, in the third round of the NCAA tournament.
The loss marked the end of senior forward Lavoy Allen’s Temple career. Allen, the program’s all-time leading rebounder and a four-year starter, finished his career with a statistic that’s become almost synonymous with his name – a double-double. Allen posted 12 points and 11 rebounds while also dishing three assists.
After the game, Allen was surrounded by his team at half court, where he was embraced by his teammates.
“We talked a bit about Lavoy’s career and what that has meant to us,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “He has pretty much dragged all of us with him. And four straight years of going to NCAA tournaments is just a remarkable run for us. We’re going to miss him greatly.”
“It’s been a great four years,” Allen added. “I’ve made a lot of friends. Hopefully, our friendships last longer than my basketball career. I’m going to miss putting on this Temple jersey.”
Seventh-seeded Temple trailed second-seeded San Diego State by 11 points with three minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the first half but prevented the Aztecs from scoring the rest of the half to enter halftime down, 36-31.
In the second half, the Owls limited the Aztecs to 33.3 percent shooting and tied the game at 54 with 51 seconds remaining. San Diego State sophomore guard Chase Tapley missed a baseline-floater as time expired as the two teams continued the contest into overtime.
During the first overtime, the Owls led by as many three pointers but never managed to put the Aztecs away for good. An “And-1” by San Diego State senior forward Malcolm Thomas took the game into a second overtime, where the Owls were outscored, 10-3, in their final period of the season.
The loss prevented the Owls from reaching their first Sweet 16 since 2001. The Owls finished their season 26-8 and advanced in the NCAA tournament for the first time underneath Dunphy.
In such a close game, it’s natural for a player to look back at one particular mishap and think about what could have been. Such a mishap occurred with 2:59 remaining in the first overtime. With Aztec sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard on the free-throw line, shooting his second foul shot, Temple junior guard Juan Fernandez was whistled for a lane violation as Leonard missed his shot. The call allowed for Leonard to attempt another free throw, one he made.
“I don’t think it was the right call,” Fernandez said. “I’ve been playing basketball for a while, like all of these guys, and we know you can’t do anything about the refs. We just try to to play our game and play through anything. We couldn’t get it done, it was our fault.”
Allen and sophomore forward Rahlir Jefferson both played all 50 minutes for the Owls. Junior guard Ramone Moore played 49 minutes while sophomore guard Khalif Wyatt played 41 minutes off the bench.
Senior guard D.J. Gay played all 50 minutes for the Aztecs and scored nine points while dishing five assists. Senior forward Billy White posted a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Leonard finished the game with 16 assists. Thomas recorded 13 points while swatting four shots.
As for next season, the Owls return four starters while also adding incoming-freshman guard Will Cummings of Florida. Freshman forwards Anthony Lee and Jimmy McDonnell, both of whom redshirted this season, will also be eligible next season. While next season should allow the Owls to contend for another NCAA bid, the loss to the Aztecs will linger, Fernandez said.
“It’s different for each player, but personally, it takes a while [to get over the loss,]” Fernandez said. “I hate to lose, and I hate to know my season is over. You hate that you’ll never know if you’re going to be back in this position again…You can’t go back and play the game now. You just have to learn from it, that’s all.”
For Fernandez and his team, they’ll also have to learn how to play without Allen.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at email@example.com