For the second time this season, the Owls and the Knights went to overtime Wednesday night in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament.
But unlike last week, in a match-up that extended into double overtime, the ninth-seeded Knights came out on top. Central Florida defeated eighth-seeded Temple 94-90 in Memphis, Tenn., which ended the season for the Owls. Temple finished the year with a 9-22 overall record, the worst of the Fran Dunphy-era.
The Knights were led by senior guard Isaiah Sykes, who scored a career-high 36 points. The Owls, who saw their two-game winning streak snapped with the loss, were led by sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey who scored 28 points. In his final collegiate game, Dalton Pepper scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
The game remained close throughout both halves, as the Knights shot .446 from the field to the Owls’ .442 percentage. In the last minute of the the second half and with the Owls up by one point, an Anthony Lee foul on Sykes gave the Knights’ an opportunity to go ahead. But after drilling the first, Sykes missed the second – which left the game tied at 76-76. After a missed jumper from junior guard Will Cummings, Sykes had the last shot of the game for the Knights – which he drilled. After review, however, the officials ruled that Sykes did not release the ball from his hands in time, which led to the first overtime.
UCF threatened to close out the game with a four point lead in overtime, but after a pair of Pepper free throws followed by a Cummings steal and subsequent layup, the Owls tied the game up at 82-82. The two teams were headed toward another overtime.
With the Knights holding an 89-87 lead with 15 seconds left, an offensive rebound from sophomore forward Staphon Blair caused trouble for the Owls, as Temple was then forced to foul. Although DeCosey scored a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one, the Knights drilled their final four free throws.
Temple got the ball back down by three points with four seconds remaining, but the Knights fouled Pepper to limit the Owls’ chances to tie the game. Pepper missed the first and then missed the second intentionally, but UCF grabbed the rebound which effectively sealed the game.
Avery Maehrer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.