Will Cummings’ team had to play much of its American Athletic Conference contest against Tulsa without him Sunday, but this time, it wasn’t due to injury.
While he hit three of the men’s basketball team’s first four field goals, Temple’s senior guard was called for two fouls inside the game’s first five minutes, and saw significant time on the bench in the first half as a result. Having been called for a third foul before the half, Cummings was ultimately limited to 23 minutes, and his team had to play on without its leader and offensive playmaker.
In a game that featured postseason implications on both sides, Tulsa took advantage of Cummings’ limited evening and stifled Temple’s offensive efforts, downing the Owls in a 55-39 rout.
Junior guards James Woodard and Rashad Smith paced the Golden Hurricane offensively, netting scoring totals of 16 and 13, respectively.
While Cummings led the Owls (19-9, 10-5 The American) with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, and also finished 5 for 7 from the free-throw line, the rest of his teammates struggled to score. Junior forward Jaylen Bond and sophomore guard Josh Brown netted six apiece for a Temple team that averaged 25 percent from the floor.
“It’s equal parts,” coach Fran Dunphy said of the losing result. “Their good defensive play and our not finishing. I would never say that Tulsa didn’t play good defense. They certainly did. But … in a game like this, in a tough environment against a really good team, we must take advantage of it.
Bond finished on 3-of-14 shooting, while guards Jesse Morgan and Quenton DeCosey combined to hit 2 of 14 attempts.
“We had opportunities at the rim,” Dunphy said. “Half a dozen times, we didn’t complete the play. We [went 0 for 2 four times] at the foul line. I’ve never seen that before. … We let Woodard shoot a couple threes that hurt, but for the most part I thought our defense was good. It was just our offense. It was one of the games where we had the ball and couldn’t finish.”
During a stretch of 10 minutes, 8 seconds with Cummings sidelined in the first half due to his foul trouble, Temple’s defense held up without him, ultimately holding the Golden Hurricane to 35 percent shooting. Tulsa (19-7, 12-2 The American) shot 41 percent in the second half, and converted 10 of 15 attempts from the free-throw line as it gradually pulled away toward the victory in the final 20 minutes.
Still holding a third-place position in the conference standings, the Owls will be back in the Liacouras Center when they host Houston, the bottom-ranked team in The American, Thursday at 7 p.m.
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Andrew_Parent23.