Temple advances in NIT, tops Bucknell

When Will Cummings addressed the media moments after finding out the Temple men’s basketball team had been snubbed in its NCAA Tournament hopes Sunday, he admitted he needed to find a way to get himself up before he could possibly think about helping his teammates. On Wednesday night, Cummings lifted the Owls into the second round of the NIT against a stubborn Bucknell squad.

When Will Cummings addressed the media moments after finding out the Temple men’s basketball team had been snubbed in its NCAA Tournament hopes Sunday, he admitted he needed to find a way to get himself up before he could possibly think about helping his teammates.

On Wednesday night, Cummings lifted the Owls into the second round of the NIT against a stubborn Bucknell squad. The senior point guard scored 30 points and Temple pulled away late for a 73-67 victory.

“It was probably Monday,” said Cummings when he was able to put the snub behind him. “I just really wanted to refocus. We’re still playing basketball. I had to get these guys refocused too. I can’t be thinking about the NCAA Tournament and think these guys are going to be thinking about Bucknell.

“We don’t want to go out on a sour night. I just want to keep playing, keep competing. I’m a senior. Any given game I can be done.”

The top-seeded Owls will meet No. 5 George Washington, a former rival in the Atlantic 10 Conference, on Sunday at 11 a.m. in the tournament’s second round.

Cummings was 9-of-14 from the field, 3-of-4 from three and 9-for-9 from the line. He also grabbed seven rebounds.

“Will was outstanding, he was ready to go, shot the ball really well,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. “It was an unbelievable performance really. I’m just happy for him. He made a great statement tonight.”

Quenton DeCosey scored 13 points and Josh Brown added 11 as the Owls’ backcourt dominated against the Bison. Jaylen Bond led the defensive effort with four blocks and four steals.

The game was tied at the half and the Bison took a one-point lead with 11:10 to go, but Cummings put the Owls back ahead with a pair of free throws and they never trailed again. Bucknell stayed in the game with its work on the boards, grabbing 51 rebounds including 21 on the offensive end.

“They were a resilient team, at one point we had to lock in and now it was going to be a battle,” said Cummings. “At this point it doesn’t matter how you get a win. A win is a win.”

Dunphy said he stressed to the Owls to be happy there are still games to play.

“We talked about it, there are a lot of teams envious of us, still getting a chance to play,” said Dunphy. “What do you say to a team (after getting snubbed)? We’re disappointed, make no mistake about it. But this opportunity is in front of us and the last few days they were pretty spirited considering what they went through.

“Did we feel we should be in? Yes, but we’re playing in a really good tournament.”

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