(PHILADELPHIA, PA) With leading scorer Damian Dunn out with a knee injury, Temples 44 point second half wasn’t enough as they suffered their fifth straight loss 72-66 to the Golden Hurricane.
Turnovers really diminished the Owls, as they finished the day with 19, compared to Tulsa's seven. 13 first half turnovers, (five in first eight minutes) led to an eight point deficit for Temple, which was found to be too much to overcome. Guard Khalif Battle did a fantastic job replacing Damian Dunn, ending with 21 points on four threes made, along with leading the team on the glass with seven.
Both big men, Jake Forrester and Rey Idowu picked up four fouls right in the beginning of the second half. This hurt Temple way more than Tulsa, as Jake came out of the game and wasn’t able to play most of the second, as he then fouled out with three minutes left in the game. True freshman Nick Jourdain replaced Forrester, and finished with four points and two rebounds. Keeping the trend, Nick got himself in foul trouble as well, finishing the game with four.
Another true freshman was able to get valuable minutes for the Owls, as guard Quincy Ademokoya in 15 minutes shot a perfect 3-3 from field, and hit two huge back to back threes starting Temples four minute comeback. With this season coming to an end, Coach is looking to give his young guys more minutes and experience for years to come.
Down 17 with seven minutes left in the match, Temple increased their pace and defensive intensity and went on a 15-4 run in five minutes. In a crucial possession with two minutes remaining, the Owls held Tulsa to a bad shot, yet couldn’t pull in the rebound. This led to a shooting foul on a layup, and wiped all the momentum Temple had.
Next came both teams' two minute press, and once Tulsa got past half court, the ball was found in senior Elijah Joiners hands. His handles made Jeremiah Williams do a full 360°, and hit the dagger three in his face with 90 seconds left.
The Owls had a fantastic transition play immediately after, leading to a quick layup from Khalif Battle. Although there was clear contact on his left arm, no call was made. Coach McKie immediately called a timeout with a minute left to pep talk his guys.
"We wanted to try and get a few traps, and we wanted to seek out the bad free throw shooter and try and get a foul and get him on the line with the thought of him maybe missing. We were in scramble mode at that point and these guys are just learning on the fly. I mean I got some young guys who haven’t been in these situations before but they are getting some valuable experience from it." Coach McKie knew what players he had on the court, and although they didn’t execute, his plan to get his guys back in it will work as these guys get more experience in late game situations.
Coach drew up a fantastic play down six to get Brendan Barry a wide open triple, which unfortunately rimmed out. Tulsa then won the free throw battle, and ended the game with a six point victory.
Senior J.P. Moorman had a very underwhelming game, finishing just 0-2 from the field and being the only Owl to go scoreless. Coach utilized his younger players in the second half over his veterans, as both Dre Perry and J.P. finished as bottom three scorers for the team. As their times are winding down, they will be valued more for their leadership off the court rather than their presence on the court.
Tulsa completed the day with four double digit scorers, led by guard Elijah Joiner with 17 on 50% shooting. Although only shooting 26.1% from three, having five more steals and 12 less turnovers was the turning point for the victory. With the win, Tulsa ends their three game losing streak, and this puts them at 6th in the AAC.
Temple had some difficulty traveling to Tulsa, as due to all the snow in the south, they were unable to land in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The plane had to land two hours away, and the team then drove to Tulsa, and stayed in hotel rooms on the way. Whether or not this made the players more fatigued for the game, all the delays and obstacles Temple has had to go through this season has been a burden.
The Owls are facing another delay, as Sunday’s match versus Memphis has been postponed. Temple's next scheduled game is for Wednesday, February 24th against South Florida.