Temple University men’s basketball (11-6, 4-2 The American Athletic Conference) redshirt-freshman guard Damian Dunn hit a mid-range shot with 36 seconds remaining in the game, giving the Owls’ a 59-58 lead against the University of Cincinnati (14-6, 4-3 The American) at the Liacouras Center on Tuesday night.
Owls’ redshirt-sophomore guard Tai Strickland then sealed the Owls’ 61-58 victory against the Bearcats at the free-throw line.
Coming off back-to-back postponements, the Owls are on a four-game winning streak despite not playing since their 69-64 victory against the University of Tulsa (6-11, 0-6 The American) on Jan. 12.
The Owls were without junior forward Jake Forrester due to a non-COVID-19-related illness but had Strickland, who returned from a back injury, and freshman forward Emmanuel Okopomo, who returned from a neck injury.
Both teams struggled offensively and went on a three-minute scoring drought until Bearcats’ senior forward John Newman made a layup, putting the Bearcats ahead 16-14 with less than eight minutes left in the first half.
The Owls found some life in their offense after freshman guard Jeremiah Williams, who scored 15 points, made a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to tie the game at 24-24 with less than four minutes left in the first half.
However, the Bearcats answered back by going on a 13-1 run after junior guard Jeremiah Davenport, who is Cincinnati’s second-leading scorer, converted a fastbreak layup heading into the half, giving the Bearcats a 37-25 lead.
Temple trailed Cincinnati for most of the first half due to careless turnovers and inefficient shots. The Owls had nine turnovers and shot 28.6 percent from the field, while the Bearcats shot 38.5 percent.
The Owls’ momentum shifted following an offensive foul called against Davenport early in the second half, leading to a Bearcats’ turnover. Owls’ freshman forward Nick Jourdain took advantage of the turnover with a fastbreak dunk to put the Owls within a 10-point margin at 41-31 with 16 minutes and 57 seconds left in the second half.
Temple cut their deficit to 48-43 after Strickland grabbed a defensive rebound and passed off to Williams, who then turned a layup into a three-point play with less than 11 minutes remaining in the second half.
Cincinnati fell into foul trouble in the second half, giving Temple multiple opportunities at the free-throw line. After a personal foul was called against Davenport, Dunn hit both free throws, and Temple took over a 52-51 lead with three minutes and 34 seconds left.
The Owls trailed by one point after Dunn hit a pivotal 3-pointer to narrow the score to 58-57 with 52.4 seconds left in the game.
Temple closed out the game at the free-throw line and finished shooting 68.4 percent from the line in the second half.
Temple will travel to Dallas, Texas, on Jan. 29 to take on Southern Methodist University (14-4, 5-1 The American) at Moody Coliseum, with tip-off set for 3 p.m.