Owls lose close home game against stifling Bearcats defense

Temple turned the ball over 19 times in a close loss to Cincinnati on Thursday night.

Freshman guard Jeremiah Williams scores a basket during the Owls' game against Cincinnati at the Liacouras Center on Feb. 4. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University men’s basketball (4-6, 3-6 The American Athletic Conference) lost to Cincinnati (4-7, 2-4 The American) 63-60 Thursday night. 

Throughout the game, Cincinnati’s defense prevented Temple from executing its offense. The Bearcats’ defense forced 19 turnovers and pressured the Owls to take poor shot opportunities. Temple shot just 39.6 percent from the field in the game. 

This was the Bearcats’ first game since Jan. 10 after its last five games were canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests within its program.  

In the first half, head coach Aaron McKie switched the lineup multiple times because the Owls’ offense was unable to find consistency. Temple only made 4-of-10 3-point shots and 8-of-25 shots from the field in the first half. 

“We got off to a slow start, but we had so many uncharacteristic, unforced turnovers for what? Lack of fundamentals? Whatever the case may be, I don’t feel this team put a ton of pressure on us, they have some physical guys, but our turnovers, we must clean it up,” McKie said.   

Bearcats sophomore guard Jeremiah Davenport recorded 14 points and six defensive rebounds. He played a vital role in Cincinnati’s defense because he frequently called out defensive assignments and recorded two steals in the game. 

Temple quickly erased an eight-point second half deficit and took the lead when freshman guard Jeremiah Williams made a 3-point shot, assisted by sophomore guard Khalif Battle, with 10 minutes and 55 seconds left in the second half to put Temple ahead 42-40. 

Williams recorded 13 points and made 2-of-3 of his 3-point shots. He’s shooting just 26.1 percent from 3-point range this season. 

Williams has worked toward gaining more confidence at the 3-point line every day at practice, he said.

The Owls led 44-42 with just under 10 minutes left in the game, but careless turnovers and foul trouble kept Temple from increasing its lead.

Cincinnati capitalized on the Owls’ mistakes, as Bearcats junior guard David DeJulius scored a game-high 26 points and was a difficult assignment for the Owls all night. He made 10-of-18 shots from the field and 4-of-11 3-point shots.

Temple redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn led the team with 16 points and found himself at the free throw line with 20 seconds left. The Owls were down by 62-58, but Dunn scored two of the three free throws, making the score 62-60. 

After a Bearcats free throw made the score 63-60, Temple needed a miracle, and they almost got one. 

The Owls had the ball with 13 seconds left as graduate student guard Brendan Barry came down the court. Barry passed the ball to Battle for a 3-point attempt, but the ball came loose and the Bearcats swiped the ball with four seconds left and the score 63-60. 

Temple will hit the road this Sunday to take on Wichita State (10-4, 6-2 The American) at 3 p.m. in Wichita, Kansas.

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