PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/4/2020 – The Temple Owls experienced shooting woes, especially at the beginning of the second half, and lost 61 – 51 to the league leading Tulsa Golden Hurricane in the regular season home finale at the Liacouras Center.
“I thought we were flat coming out and a lot of that comes from the offensive end of the floor,” said Temple Coach Aaron McKie. “We shouldn’t think like that. When the ball is not going in the hole on the offensive side, we lose our focus on the defensive side.”
The Owls were successful on 29.8% from the floor (17 of 57) and made 6 of 26 attempts from three-point land. But it was early in the second half when the game got away from them. It took Temple over seven minutes to score their first points of the latter twenty minutes when Quinton Rose made a jumper in the paint at the 12:50 mark. Up to that point the Cherry and White were off the mark on all 8 of their shots, and did not convert on 4 free throws during that stretch.
Tulsa extended a 31 – 24 halftime lead to a 42 – 24 advantage held until late. Temple made a charge getting to within 10 on three different occasions. They were defending during that time. The Owls got to within 8 on a Rose three with under a minute to play. He led the team with 15 points in his senior night.
“We kept that team to forty percent shooting and twenty-six percent from three,” McKie said. “I thought we were solid and that was with a lot of miscues. It came from our lack of focus from not being able to score on the offensive side.”
Nate Pierre-Louis grabbed game-high 12 rebounds. Damion Moore, another senior, had a career-high tying 10 rebounds. He swatted away 4 shots, a collegiate-best.
Tulsa (21 – 9, 13 – 4) got 17 points from Martins Igbanu and 13 from Brandon Rachal, who pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds.
Temple (14 – 16, 6 – 11) closes the regular season with a road game at Cincinnati before moving on the conference tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.
“The beauty of playing in the conference championship is that you get another opportunity,” McKie said. “I feel that anybody can win the American. The games have been close, teams have been beating up on one another. You want to be playing your best basketball, which we are not at this particular point. But you can build momentum.”
Prior to the game five Seniors were honored. Those players were Rose, Moore, Alani Moore II, and senor walk-on players Anto Keshgegian and Tim Waddington. This game is an emotional game for the seniors.
“There were a lot of emotions going,” said Rose.
“I didn’t think about it until the last moments when the game ended,” Moore reflected. “It felt like I am going to miss it, miss my teammates, and miss being out there at the Liacouras Center.”
For players like Keshgegian and Waddington, it was an event they will always remember. Both players entered the game with a few seconds remaining. In their 15 seconds on the court Waddington grabbed a missed free throw and took the ball down court. He put up a three-pointer that missed. Keshgegian grabbed the rebound, the first of his career. He took the ball into the corner and instead of shooting, he found a cutting Waddington who attempted a layup, but was fouled. Waddington went the line and made his second shot tying his season scoring-high.
The crowd erupted. It was a moment neither player will forget. And their coach will remember too.
“I wish I could have played them more, because I appreciate what those guys have done for the program behind the scenes,” McKie said about his walk-on’s. “They come ready for the call, compete, lift weights, do all of the things that scholarship players were doing, and still maintain a high academic standard. That’s commendable on their part. I wanted to reward them in some way. I told them how much I appreciate them. They will be successful in life.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian