NEW YORK – As Villanova pulled away from the University of North Carolina-Asheville in the second half of its first round NCAA tournament game, Jaylen Bond sat behind the UNC Asheville basket at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as a spectator.
Wearing a black jacket over top of his cherry warmup suit, the senior forward waited for the Owls’ game against the University of Iowa, his first NCAA tournament game since he was a freshman at the University of Texas in 2012.
One row behind Bond sat senior guard Devin Coleman. Two seats to his right, junior forward Mark Williams took in the game. While preparing for possibly the last game of his college career, Bond sat alone between two empty black chairs with headphones in his ears, focusing for the impending matchup.
Three-and-half hours later his days in a Temple uniform were over, ended in an instant by Iowa senior center Adam Woodbury’s putback layup.
“It’s hard,” Bond said sitting next to fellow senior Quenton DeCosey at the postgame press conference. “Any time you lose is hard.”
For Bond and the rest of the senior class, which includes Coleman, DeCosey and senior forward Devontae Watson, Friday’s 72-70 overtime loss to Iowa marked the last moment of their Temple and college careers.
“I feel for the seniors,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “Every game is tough to go out on whenever you lose. Obviously, a buzzer beater is even more difficult.”
DeCosey, who scored 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the loss, did everything he could to extend his four years with the Owls one game further.
After sitting for five minutes in the second half due to foul trouble, he came back into the game with less than 14 minutes left and scored 11 points during the rest of regulation. His three free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime, adding three more points to his scoring total.
“When I got back in,” DeCosey said, “I just wanted to do whatever I could to help my team get back in the game and give us the best chance at winning the game.”
Dunphy relied heavily on the senior class this season to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.
DeCosey was a unanimous first team all-American Athletic Conference selection and ended his career with 1,513 points after Friday’s game.
Bond ranked fifth in the conference in rebounding and tallied 11 double-doubles. Coleman, who transferred from Clemson University in January 2014, used his 3-point shooting to guide Temple to several big wins, including a Jan. 24 victory against previously undefeated Southern Methodist.
“I love these guys,” Dunphy said. “The seniors are gone. You won’t see much of them after this. … So it hurts to be honest with you. That’s part of the problem of this situation. It’s now the abruptness of the ending that is frightening.”
Bond, a Philadelphia native who transferred from Texas in May 2013, played his first game for Temple on Nov. 21, 2014, a loss to Duke University. He had two points and five rebounds in the game.
The forward finished last season averaging 7.6 points per game and led The American in rebounding at 7.9 rebounds per game. He followed that with 10.3 PPG and 8.5 RPG this year. On Friday, Bond ended his career with a 14-point and 15-rebound performance.
“It’s been a great experience,” Bond said. “You know, transferring after two years from Texas, just being part of this program, it meant a lot for me and my family. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Own McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.