Temple Men’s Basketball trailed Charlotte by 13 points with five minutes remaining Sunday afternoon at The Liacouras Center. The Owls had an up-and-down day to that point, but they found a spark late to pull within three with 12 seconds left.
Charlotte forward Igor Milicic Jr. had a chance to put the game on ice from the free-throw line but made just one shot to keep the score at one possession. The Owls grabbed the rebound and ran out in transition, and Temple guard Matteo Picarelli found a decent look to send the game to overtime but missed to the left.
Temple (8-16, 1-10 American Athletic Conference) fell to Charlotte (15-8, 9-2 AAC) 73-70 Sunday afternoon. The Owls struggled to find consistency throughout the game and extended their losing streak to nine straight games, their longest since the 1975-76 season.
“I thought we got a decent look at what we were trying to get,” said Temple head coach Adam Fisher. “Our guys executed. We say it all the time: we gotta play a full 40. But I thought we did a nice job at the end getting the look.”
The Owls played without guard Jahlil White, their leading scorer and best defender, who has struggled to stay healthy this season. Fisher didn’t provide an update on his status after the game, saying White told the staff prior to tip-off he wasn’t able to play.
Guard Quante Berry stepped up in his absence, scoring a team-high 13 points on an efficient 5-8 from the field.
“Just taking those times in practice every day and trying to do everything I can to win and just hope it translates into being so close,” Berry said. “I think my teammates just put me in the position and gave me a couple of easy baskets in transition.”
Temple couldn’t find the rim after the first two shots of the game, missing five in a row while Charlotte went on a 7-0 run. The Owls helped cause four Charlotte turnovers and went on a 6-0 run to cut the 49ers lead to 14-11 toward the middle of the first half. Berry scored all six points.
Both teams traded baskets as the clock ticked down in the first half. Charlotte committed an offensive foul with less than five minutes remaining that gave Temple momentum, and the Owls scored three straight baskets to tie the game at 21 with three minutes left in the half.
“They believe,” Fisher said. “They gotta keep battling. We need to keep playing hard for ourselves in these positions.”
The Owls sank their second and third threes of the game with less than a minute left in the first half to trail the 49ers by one point. However, Charlotte guard Lu’Cye Patterson hit a buzzer-beater to put the 49ers up 33-29 heading into the locker room.
“From what I’ve learned playing basketball, it’s not always gonna be an offensive night, but you control if it’s gonna be a defensive night,” Berry said. “So every game, I just try to look for the defense, and then if the shots fall, then they fall. If they don’t, I’m just gonna play defense.”
Forward Steve Settle III slammed home a dunk in a fast break at the 11-minute mark that gave the Owls their fourth tie of the game. That momentum was short-lived, as the 49ers went on a 16-5 run from the eight-minute mark to the five-minute mark, and the Owls started to look defeated.
Temple’s bench came up big against Charlotte with 31 points, including 13 from Berry and nine from guard Shane Dezonie. Berry and Dezonie were two of the Owls’ top scorers along with guard Hysier Miller’s 14 points.
“I would love for everybody on our team to have their best night of the season every time out,” Fisher said. “That’s not how you work. That’s not what a team is. When certain guys aren’t having their best night, the other guys step up. That’s important.”
Temple will return to action when they travel to Boca Rotton, Florida, to take on No. 20 Florida Atlantic (19-5, 9-2 AAC) on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.