It took 20 minutes and 44 seconds of action for East Carolina senior guard Caleb White to score his first basket on Thursday.
He made a 3-pointer early in the second half to put the Pirates up by 10. Temple closed the gap to one point and had three shots to take the lead between the 12:01 mark and the 10:04 mark in the second half.
The Owls missed all three chances, and East Carolina outscored Temple by 10 in the final 10 minutes of their 80-69 loss to East Carolina in the first round of American Athletic Conference tournament. The Pirates advance to face Southern Methodist, the conference’s top seed and the No. 12 team in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll.
The loss likely ends Temple’s (16-16, 7-11 American Athletic Conference) season.
Junior forward Obi Enechionyia scored 20 points for the first time since the Owls’ win against St. Joseph’s on Nov. 30. Temple allowed East Carolina to shoot 50.9 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from 3-point range. The Pirates entered play shooting 31 percent from downtown.
Pirates sophomore swingman Kentrell Barkley’s 3-point jumper with 1:38 left in the first half gave East Carolina a nine-point lead. Barkley led all scorers with 14 first-half points on 5-of-10 shooting. He nearly had a double-double in the first half, collecting nine rebounds. Barkley finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds.
The Pirates shot 46.7 percent from the field in the first half, 15.4 percent better than the Owls. Redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle and sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr. combined to shoot 3-for-15 in the first half. The pair finished with a combined 21 points on 33 percent shooting.
Enechionyia finished the game with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting, including four 3-pointers.
He started an 8-1 Temple run when he hit a 3-pointer with 10:48 left. Freshman guard Quinton Rose’s transition layup with 8:07 left briefly cut Temple’s deficit to one point, 19-18, before Barkley converted a layup on a second-chance opportunity.
Rose, who was named to The American’s all-freshman team earlier this week, finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. His layup with 4:50 left in the second half ended the Pirates’ 9-2 run. Freshman guard Elijah Hughes scored six of his 17 points off the bench on the run.
Andre Washington, the leading shot blocker in the conference, played limited minutes in the first half after hurting his ankle with 11:24 left. He returned later in the half and finished with six points and two blocks.
Evan Easterling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Evan_Easterling. Follow The Temple News at @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.