Cincinnati sophomore guard Keith Williams made a three-pointer on the right wing with 5:34 remaining in the second half to give the Bearcats their first lead of the game and completing a 14 point comeback.
Temple University men’s basketball (15-5, 5-2 The American) lost 72-68 to the Bearcats (18-3, 7-1 The American Athletic Conference) at the Liacouras Center on Sunday. The Owls held a 14-point lead in the first half but couldn’t overcome a poor second half.
“The key to the game in the second half for us was not having turnovers,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “It allows us to get offensive rebounds or get fouled. You are not gonna draw a foul if you turn it over.”
Temple struggled defensively in the second half allowing the Bearcats to shoot 46.4 percent from the field despite holding them to 3-for-11 from behind the arc. Cincinnati’s leading scorer junior guard Jarron Cumberland finished with 25 points, scoring 18 in the second half.
Cumberland converted a four-point play with 12:35 left in the second half, which cut Temple’s nine-point lead down to five.
“I thought a big play was the Cumberland three in front of their bench where we fouled him,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “That was a big play. It got the lead down from nine to five.”
The Owls failed to rebound the basketball on the defensive end the entire game. Cincinnati won the battle on the boards 46-22 and won the battle of second-chance points 17-3.
Sophomore guard Nate Pierre-Louis led the Owls with six rebounds. Temple’s’ usual leading rebounder senior center Ernest Aflakpui, who averages 7.4 rebounds a game, only had four due to foul trouble, Dunphy added.
The Owls replaced Alakpui with sophomore forward Justyn Hamilton and junior center Damion Moore, but they also got into foul trouble, ending with four combined fouls and just two combined rebounds.
“They were tough to keep off the boards”, Dunphy said. “Obviously, we did not do a good job of that. “They had 16 offensive rebounds which is what they had last year as well so it was not a big surprise.”
Temple also stagnated on offense in the second half, resorting to isolation basketball. The Owls shot 40.9 percent from the floor and 2-for-8 from long distance.
The first half told a different story of offense and defense for Temple. The Owls shot 7-for-16 from beyond the arc in the first half while holding Cincinnati to 0-for-7 from 3-point range. The team also forced eight Cincinnati turnovers while only forcing three in the second-half.
Sophomore forward JP Moorman came off the bench for the Owls and provided an offensive boost. Moorman finished the game with a career-high 20 points while shooting 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
After splitting two conference games at home, Temple will travel to face nationally ranked Houston (20-1, 7-1 The American) on Thursday in Houston, Texas.