Despite Temple leading by as many as 18-points in its win against the University of Cincinnati, the Bearcats’ defense came alive late, forcing the Owls into foul trouble and bringing the game to within three points.
Temple University men’s basketball (15-9, 8-5 The American Athletic Conference) beat the Bearcats (17-10, 7-7 The American) 75-71 on Sunday afternoon, scoring a season-high 47 first-half points on 80 percent 3-point shooting en route to the victory.
The Owls came out red-hot with their best shooting performance to begin a game this season, shooting 55.6 percent from the field. Four players – freshmen forward Zach Hicks, guard Jahlil White and guard Hysier Miller, and redshirt-freshman Damian Dunn – scored at least eight points.
“We were just moving the ball, making shots,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “Everybody contributed.”
The Owls finished the game with five players scoring in double-digits and overcame poor shooting in the second half to secure a big victory. Redshirt-sophomore forward Arashma Parks and White fouled out with about five minutes remaining.
In the first half, Temple shot out to a quick 9-2 lead and did not look back, keeping the Bearcats at bay and controlling possession of the ball. While not all of the Owls’ field goal attempts were quality looks, most hit the bottom of the net.
In the second half, the Bearcats relied on the 3-point shot, attempting 19 3-pointers and converting only four of them. Bearcats’ junior guard Jeremiah Davenport led the Bearcats in scoring with 24 points, including 17 in the second half.
Last time out, White held Davenport to a mere nine points on three-of-14 shooting. Today, though, Davenport single-handedly kept the Bearcats in the game, partly because White was dealing with a shoulder injury that hindered his ability to stick with Davenport at times.
Temple utilized many ball handlers, including Miller, White, redshirt-sophomore guard Tai Strickland and Dunn. Miller scored a career-high 13 points and showcased his passing ability with three assists.
With five seconds left in the first half, Miller cut inside with the ball and found an open Hicks on the far boundary. He jumped and delivered a strike to Hicks, who converted the 3-pointer after getting fouled.
The key difference between the two teams today was the offensive energy. The Owls secured 13 offensive rebounds, creating 12 second-chance points and 16 points in the paint. Hicks and junior forward Sage Tolbert III led the Owls with seven rebounds each.
Bearcats’ senior guard David DeJulius, averaging 14.7 points a game this season, only managed to score four points in the first half, a testament to Temple’s strong defense for the majority of the game.
Down the stretch, the Bearcast put pressure on Temple, bringing the Owls’ lead down to seven with four minutes left. However, it was a defensive rebound by Strickland and a possession jump ball that led to Temple’s second straight win. Hicks, Dunn and Strickland hit free throws to close it out.
Temple entered the contest a half-game up on the Bearcats in the American Athletic Conference standings, and this win further solidified the Owls’ top-five position for a first-round bye in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Owls travel to the University of Memphis (15-8, 9-4 The American) on Feb. 24 to face the Tigers.