Ernest Aflakpui’s foul trouble, Obi Enechionyia’s shooting woes, Quinton Rose’s cramps and Josh Brown's sore Achilles all contributed to Temple’s 56-50 loss to No. 23 Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference opener at the Liacouras Center on Wednesday.
Nearly six minutes into Wednesday’s game against Cincinnati, the question wasn’t whether Temple would secure its third victory over a nationally-ranked team this season.
It was whether the Owls would get shut out.
The entire first half was ragged for both teams and it perhaps fittingly ended tied at 26 after Cincinnati opened a 9-0 lead. The teams combined to shoot 19-for-60 and turned the ball over 19 times.
Overall, Temple shot 26 percent and Cincinnati 32 percent. There were 15 assists and 31 turnovers in the game.
Temple didn’t score for the first 5:55 of the game until Daniel Dingle finally broke the drought with a free throw. The Owls trailed 7-0 at the first media timeout and 9-0 before Dingle broke the ice.
The Owls missed their first eight shots before Dingle hit a three-pointer on a third chance after two offensive rebounds by Aflakpui. Temple uncharacteristically turned the ball over eight times in just over 10 minutes of play but still only trailed 9-7.
Averaging 4.4 points and 5.9 rebounds, sophomore center Aflakpui had four points and seven rebounds just over 12 minutes into the game.
But Aflakpui found his second-half minutes limited by foul trouble. He picked up foul No. 3 with 16 minutes to go and his fourth foul with 11:02 to play and finished with four more rebounds without scoring another point.
The Bearcats went on a 12-0 second-half run, erasing a four-point deficit and taking an eight-point lead and much of it came with Aflakpui on the bench.
A three-pointer by Jarron Cumberland, well-defended and with a second on the shot clock, gave Cincinnati a 51-43 lead with 5:10 remaining and was the dagger for the Owls, who fought back one more time but could never tie the game.
Temple had two chances to tie or win, but Dingle had a long three-pointer blocked and after a pair of missed free throws on the other end, the Owl senior turned the ball over on a soft pass.
Enechiyonia continued his struggles. He shot 3-for-10 from the field after a 1-for-11 performance in the last game against Yale.
After scoring over 20 points in five of his first seven games, Enechiyonia has been held under the mark in his last seven games. A number of his final last few shots on Wednesday were air balls.
Rose played only a couple seconds in the second half after coming up with cramps, a recurring problem for the freshman. Dunphy said maybe the Owls needed people walking around with water jugs like the football team, but the issue needs to be resolved as Rose's absences have been costly.
Brown missed his third straight game with soreness in his Achilles, which he tore in the spring. The senior is still in the process of deciding whether he will return this year or seek a medical redshirt.
Once Brown takes the floor again, he won’t be eligible for the redshirt. Dunphy said Brown would have an MRI tomorrow.
Cincinnati is 11-2 overall, while Temple fell to 9-5.null