Temple Men’s Basketball (10-9, 4-2 American Athletic Conference) lost to the University of Memphis (13-5, 3-2 The American) 61-59 on Sunday afternoon at The Liacouras Center.
Seconds after Owls’ redshirt sophomore guard Damian Dunn made a game-tying three with less than 10 seconds remaining, Tigers’ fifth-year guard Kendric Davis converted a mid-range buzzer beater off an inbound pass to clinch the victory for Memphis.
“Those are the sort of things that can happen when you put yourself in those situations,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “Anything can happen, somebody can get it out of their hand, so anything can happen and that’s the end result.”
The Owls had a chance to take the lead with less than a minute remaining, but Dunn missed on a driving layup after getting a promising chance at the rim.
Neither team could consistently find the basket in the first half. Temple shot a poor 25.9 percent from the field, making just one of their 11 three-point shot attempts. Redshirt sophomore guard Khalif Battle, the team’s leading scorer this season, finished the game with just three points, shooting a disastrous two-of-14 from the field and missing all but one of his 10 three-point attempts.
Despite falling behind 10-2 in the opening minutes of the contest, Temple generated a 10-0 run to take the lead thanks to two goaltending calls and a pair of trips to the free throw line by sophomore guard Jahlil White and sophomore forward Nick Jourdain.
After being ejected for committing a double technical foul in Temple’s 76-72 win against the University of Tulsa on Jan. 10, White came off the bench but entered the game during the first media timeout alongside Dunn and Battle.
Temple managed to hold Memphis to just 25 points in the first half and enter halftime down only two points to offset their underwhelming offensive effort. Davis, the conference’s leading scorer, was held to only four points, shooting two-of-seven from the field in the first half.
Back-and-forth play continued in the early stages of the second half, with both teams continuing to struggle making open shots. Three trips to the free throw line and a deep three from Dunn helped put Temple up by nine with just less than nine minutes remaining.
Jourdain, who has taken an expanded role while sophomore forward Jamille Reynolds works his way back from thumb surgery, finished the game with his second career double-double. He also had a key chase down block in the final minutes to keep the game within one possession, setting up a go-ahead three from Battle.
“[Jourdain] was active for us,” McKie said. “He gave us a shot in the arm and we obviously missed a lot of shots and he was able to get his hands on balls and give us second-chance opportunities.”
After Temple jumped out by as much as nine points late in the game, Davis began to heat up, scoring eight consecutive points including two three-pointers and the game winning shot as time expired.
“At the end of the game it’s going to be the Kendric Davis show,” McKie said. “It’s been like that throughout his career from SMU to now Memphis and that came as no surprise to us late in the game but we still had an opportunity to win the game and we just didn’t pull it out and they made plays down the stretch.”
The Owls will look to get back in the win column when they host East Carolina University (10-9, 1-5 The American) on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m.
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