NEW YORK, N.Y. – Temple’s turnaround season came to a disappointing finish on Tuesday night, as the Owls dropped a 60-57 decision to Miami in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
Ahead for most of the first 30 minutes, the Owls watched their lead slip away during a miserable shooting stretch. They converted just 6 of 31 field goal attempts in the last 16 minutes, and missed all 15 three-point attempts in the second half.
Still, they maintained a small lead thanks to solid defense and pretty good work on the boards against the bigger Hurricanes.
Miami finally pushed ahead when top scorer Sheldon McClellan hit consecutive three-pointers with eight minutes to go. The Hurricanes extended their lead to 56-49 inside the four-minute mark, before the Owls made one last run.
Josh Brown hit a pair of free throws and Quenton DeCosey followed with an acrobatic driving layup. And the Owls made four straight defensive stops. Then Will Cummings hit a spinning fastbreak layup that cut the lead to 56-55 with 44 seconds to go.
But Miami’s Deandre Burnett answered with a driving bank shot, and DeCosey was fouled on a drive to the basket, but missed both free throws.
The Owls had one last chance to tie the game, after Burnett missed the front end of a one-and-one with 13 seconds to go.
They designed a play for Jesse Morgan, but he was blanketed when he got the ball, so it was reversed back to DeCosey, who got a pretty good look at the basket from 23 feet away. His shot hit the back of the rim, however, and Temple’s season came to an end.
While it was the farewell game for Cummings (11 points, three assists) and Morgan (seven points, four steals), Obi Enechioniya grabbed the spotlight with 17 points, eight rebounds, and five blocked shots in his freshman finale.
Jaylen Bond injured his ankle with 16 minutes to go, then tried to give it a shot at the eight-minute mark, but lasted just 30 seconds before he limped off again.
Miami had its own injury issues, playing without starting point guard Angel Rodriguez and then losing starting center Tonye Jekiri to a concussion just six minutes into the game. But the Hurricanes got 27 points from their bench, including a solid effort from backup point guard and Philadelphia native Ja’Quan Newton (nine points, two assists).
Besides shooting poorly, the Owls also lost floor balance on a few occasions in the second half and allowed leak-out fastbreaks by the Hurricanes. Take away those three or four uncontested layups and dunks and Miami had just as much shooting trouble as Temple.
The Owls finished the season 26-11 – matching the seventh-best single-season win total in school history.
Listen to postgame comments from the Owls here:
Farewell from NYC
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