In their third matchup of the season, Temple University men’s basketball (17-12, 10-7 The American Athletic Conference) fell 69-60 to Tulane University (14-14, 10-8 The American) in the quarterfinals of The American Athletic Conference Tournament Friday afternoon.
The Owls’ slow start kept them behind offensively, and its defense, at times, failed to contain the Green Wave’s fast and aggressive offense.
Going into the matchup, the teams split the season series 1-1, with Temple defeating the Green Wave 75-70 in their most recent matchup on Feb. 27.
Despite the Green Wave missing their leading scorer, freshman guard Jalen Cook, they generated enough offense to win through fast breaks and aggressive drives to the basket.
“Truth is we can win without him,” said Green Wave freshman guard Sion James. “Especially if we have some of our other guys going.”
After being down 7-2 in the first three minutes of the matchup, a 3-pointer by Owls’ redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn gave the Owls their first field goal of the game.
By the halfway point of the first half, Temple saw short, quick leads over the Green Wave that quickly evaporated. Offensively, the Owls were netting nothing but free throws.
The Owls made 13 of 15 free throw attempts in the first half, with freshman guard Hysier Miller making all seven of his attempts.
“Just not going and attacking the basket, just kind of laying the balls out, and they did a good job of blocking our shots,” said head coach Aaron McKie.
However, a much needed dunk by freshman forward Nick Jourdain late in the first half cut the Owls’ deficit to just five points.
The Green Wave kept the Owls from scoring a field goal for more than four minutes until Dunn netted two points in the final two minutes of the first half.
By halftime, the Owls were down 36-27 but they made adjustments that showed in the second half.
Dunn netted the first two points of the second half, with a made 3-pointer by Miller directly after, cutting the Owls’ deficit to four points at 36-32.
Temple switched gears defensively and began applying more pressure to the Green Wave, forcing back-to-back turnovers.
A steal by freshman guard Jahlil White with 13 minutes left in the half allowed Miller to break away and make a run down the court, netting two points. This play cut the Green Wave’s lead to just 43-40.
Despite getting more aggressive on defense, the Owls struggled to capitalize on the turnovers they forced, and it cost them in the end.
Foul trouble for Temple in the final two minutes of the contest allowed the Green Wave to keep their lead and secure the win.
Miller scored a career-high of 21 points and freshman forward Zach Hicks came in a close second with 12 points.
Dunn, who came into the game as one of the American’s top scoring guards, injured his ankle and only played 18 total minutes while scoring 7 points.
The loss wraps up Temple’s season without a win in the AAC Tournament since the 2017-18 season.
“We didn’t get the outcome today that we wanted, but I was incredibly proud of our guys throughout the year being able to pivot and make adjustments,” McKie said.