With two minutes and one second remaining in the game, Owls’ freshman guard Jeremiah Williams stole the ball in the backcourt and went coast-to-coast, finding freshman forward Nick Jourdain wide open underneath the basket for a big slam. A game that was in a 52-52 deadlock just two minutes earlier blew open and as the Owls established a seven-point lead.
“I’m asking a lot of them,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “Experience is the best teacher.”
Temple University men’s basketball (13-7, 6-3 The American Athletic Conference) defeated the University of Tulsa (7-14, 1-9 The American) 67-58 on Saturday afternoon, marking their sixth win in their last seven games.
The Golden Hurricane may be last in the conference, but didn’t make it easy for Temple.
The Owls’ needed a late second-half defensive stand to hold off the Golden Hurricane after they gained confidence down the stretch.
Temple forced 16 turnovers, and had eight steals and two blocks in another superb defensive showing. But the Golden Hurricane still erased an 11-point deficit to tie the game at 40 with nine minutes remaining in the second half.
The Owls shot only 17.4 percent from 3-point territory, well below their season average of 31 percent from range. Freshman forward Zach Hicks accounted for three of the team’s four 3-pointers.
In a game that was won in the paint, the Owls outscored the Golden Hurricane 38 to 34 down low, but committed seven turnovers, only one of which was in the first half.
For Temple, Jourdain had 15 points and 12 rebounds, while freshman guard Jahlil White complemented his nine points with six rebounds and nine assists. It was Jourdain’s first double-double while White topped his career high in assists.
“We are growing, getting older, learning with each other,” White said.
Yet once again, it was redshirt-sophomore guard Damian Dunn and Williams who did the bulk of the scoring when nobody else could find their rhythm offensively.
Williams hit a jumper and assisted on two more buckets in the paint within the last five minutes, with Dunn hitting a turnaround jumper of his own to bring the Liacouras Center crowd back to life.
The Golden Hurricane’s leading scorer this season, sophomore guard Sam Griffin, barely got involved, shooting 20 percent from the field and committing three turnovers. The team’s go-to man became senior forward Rey Iwodu, who finished with 21 points, including 15 in the second half alone.
In a game that came down to the final five minutes, Temple found a way to hit key shots. Williams, Hicks, White and Jourdain each made both of their free throw attempts in the final minute and 30 seconds, helping Temple pull away when it mattered most.
Next up, the Owls will travel to Tampa Bay, Florida, to take on the University of South Florida (6-14, 1-7 The American) on Monday, Feb. 7 in a game that was postponed on Jan. 20 due to COVID-19 issues within the Bulls’ program.
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