Daniel Dingle was the hero last December when the Owls opened up American Athletic Conference play with a win against nationally ranked Cincinnati. He hit a 3-point shot and assisted on another in the waning minutes of the upset.
When Temple started conference play against Cincinnati on Tuesday at the Liacouras Center, Dingle had the ball in his hands down the stretch once again.
The redshirt-senior swingman scored 15 points, but he couldn’t be the Owls’ hero this time as Temple fell 56-50 to the Bearcats, who are ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
“They kept keying in,” Dingle said. “I did my best to try and get guys the ball, but I felt like they did a good job of staying home and playing the passing lanes. … They made big shots when we missed, and Cincinnati deserved to win the game.”
Dingle scored a layup with 1:31 left to bring the Owls within two and then blocked a shot to give Temple a chance to tie the game on their next possession. Instead, Dingle had his 3-point shot blocked and forced Temple to foul with 31 seconds left.
Cincinnati junior forward Gary Clark’s missed both free throws which gave Temple another chance to tie things up. Dingle drove down the lane, but he picked up his dribble and turned the ball over with 14 seconds left to seal Temple’s fate.
“We finally were able to keep him in front of us,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “We thought that they might go to him and he’d probably try to get in the lane. We tried to give him a little space, and I’m not sure if Gary [Clark was on him or Tre [Scott], but we did a good job of keeping that chest in front of him.”
Cincinnati started the game on a 9-0 run. The Owls didn’t score their first point until redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle made a free throw nearly six minutes into the game. Templ’s first basket came at the 12:28 mark in the first half when sophomore center Ernest Aflakpui grabbed an offensive board and kicked it to Dingle for a 3-point shot.
The Owls overcame the rough offensive stretch by scoring nine straight points to tie the game at nine with 9:07 left in the first half, and the two teams went into halftime tied at 26.
Temple went on another scoring drought in the middle of the second half. Freshman guard Quinton Rose left the game with cramps and Aflakpui, who finished with four points and 11 rebounds, headed to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 11:02 left. The Owls went four minutes and 21 seconds without a basket as Cincinnati went on a 10-0 run to take a 47-39 lead with 7:29 left.
“It was very even … and then they got a six and eight point lead shortly thereafter when those two things happened,” coach Fran Dunphy said.
The Owls shot 26.7 percent from the field on Wednesday night. Dingle was 4 of 17. Sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. and freshman guard Alani Moore combined for 20 points on 7-of-24 shooting.
Junior forward Obi Enechionyia made 3-of-10 shots, including an 0-for-5 performance from 3-point range, to finish with seven points and 10 rebounds. After scoring 12 points or more in the team’s first 10 games, Enechionyia has scored in single digits in three of his last four contests.
Dunphy would like to see him use the shot fake and drive to the land more often as defenses continue to zero in on him.
“They’re running at him differently than they did a couple week ago,” he said. “And people are figuring it out. He needs to make that adjustment.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue