Owls win fourth straight in OT thriller

Daniel Hamilton stepped to the free-throw line with the game in his hands.

With three attempts, his team trailed Temple by two points, as 2.8 seconds remained.

Despite being 2-for-3 from the charity stripe prior to the game-winning opportunity, Hamilton missed all three of his attempts, effectively sealing a 57-53 overtime win for the men’s basketball team against Connecticut Wednesday.

Prior to the Hamilton free throws, a 40-foot outlet pass by Terrence Samuel found Rodney Purvis, leading to a monumental dunk. The sophomore guard’s connection gave the Huskies five more minutes of life in a tightly-contested game in which they failed to hold a lead for more than 16 minutes in the second half.

In an overtime period in which the Huskies struggled to click offensively, they managed two points and spoiled a strong defensive effort that held Temple to six points in the period.

It took Temple less than half the amount of games it had last season to eclipse its win total from the year prior.

With double-digit wins, Temple opened conference play against UConn, coming off the heels of a three-game winning streak including a blowout win in upset fashion against No. 10 Kansas and most recently a 10-point win against Delaware State on Dec. 28.

Temple’s defense flourished, holding the Huskies to a season-low 53 points despite the extra five minutes, while holding them to 39 percent from the field.

Cummings, given the responsibility to check talented senior point guard Ryan Boatright early on, started the day strong with four points and a promising defensive effort in the first half of the game.

Boatright, who appeared to suffer a leg injury early in the game, battled to stay on the floor for the majority of the game and struggled to make an impact. The standout guard went 1-for-5 while committing two turnovers in the first half and, after sitting out in the final minutes of the first half, returned in the second half only to abruptly leave the game once again.

The injury, diagnosed as a “deep left thigh bruise” by a Connecticut spokesman, sidelined him for the remainder of the game, returning to the bench midway through the second half to watch the rest of the game.

Temple edged out a tightly-contested first half, ending the first 20 minutes with a four-point lead.

A hot streak that featured five consecutive baskets from the field helped the Owls edge the Huskies with five minutes left in the contest.

Senior Jesse Morgan, playing in his fourth game after NCAA transfer regulations sidelined him for the first semester of games, continued to be a welcome addition, scoring 17 points, his fourth time scoring in double figures in as many games.

Morgan became the first player to reach double figures following a make from long range set up by freshman forward Obi Enechionyia.

The Owls won the turnover battle by a margin of five, forcing 16 while committing 11. The defensive pressure helped supplement a poor shooting game for the Owls, who managed to shoot 32 percent from the field.

In addition to the turnovers were the three pointers aiding in the poor shooting percentage, shooting 35 percent from beyond the arc, the Owls’ long distance shooting played its part as the Huskies shot 11 percent from long range.

The Owls move to 10-4 (1-0 American Athletic Conference) on the season and shift their focus to their Jan. 4 home matchup against Central Florida at noon.

EJ Smith can be reached at esmith@temple.edu or on Twitter @ejsmitty17.

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