It’s finally over.
The long, brutal, ugly, frustrating Temple Basketball season has come to an end. The Owls fell to the UCF Golden Knights in double overtime 94-90 on Wednesday night. It was a first round match in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Tournament.
The game was literally centimeters from ending without any extra time. UCF guard Isaiah Sykes hit a long jumper at the end of regulation that would have given the Golden Knights the win, but the shot was still in his hands as the buzzer went off.
That would have been a pretty fitting end to Temple’s season, but luckily (not so much) the Owls season was still alive.
To be completely honest, Temple should have won this game. They played better throughout the game. The Owls shot 50% from behind the arc, something they have no done in sometime. They only turned the ball over 10 times in 50 minutes of play. The numbers make it seem as if Temple played a pretty decent game.
Free throws were the issue for the Owls in this one. It’s surprising that a team that is top three in the conference in free throws, lost in the conference tournament because of free throws.
Temple shot just 50% from the charity stripe Wednesday night. They shot the same percentage behind the arc as they did from the line. Ironically, the Owls hit 12 of 13 free throws in overtime against UCF in the March 4th meeting between these two teams.
This time around, Temple was just three of 10 from the line in both overtimes. That was the difference in this one.
There weren’t many first half trends. The largest lead was a 20-13 UCF lead after Philly native Calvin Newell drained a three. Temple kept it close as the half went on, and Temple snagged their first lead since 2-0 with 4:19 to play in the half. Isaiah Sykes hit a three at end of the half that cut Temple’s lead to one going into halftime.
UCF hit seven first half threes, but only drained one deep ball in the second. There were eight total lead changes throughout the second half, and that shows how close the game was. The Owls led 75-70 with 2:20 in the half.
That is when it got ugly for the Owls. UCF’s star drove the lane for a layup that was blocked by Anthony Lee. UCF picked up the rebound and got it back out to Sykes who drained and three and was fouled in the process. He went on to miss the free throw, the Golden Knights got another offensive and Sykes hit another jumper.
Isaiah Sykes scored FIVE points in one possession with two minutes left in a FIVE POINT GAME. Both teams added one more point and the score stayed at 76-76 going into overtime (after Sykes’s almost buzzer-beater).
Will Cummings missed two free throws when the Owls were down one with four minutes to go in the first OT. Temple never led in the first extra session, and it looked like they were going to lose. Will Cummings had a huge steal at half court with 22 seconds left and took that in for game tying lay in. Sykes missed a potential three at the buzzer and that forced a second OT.
In the second extra session, the Owls were just one for six from the free throw line. Cummings had a chance for a three point play early on, but failed to capitalize. With just over a minute to go and Temple down three, Josh Brown missed two shots and Dalton Pepper missed one in the same possession.
UCF’s Kasey Wilson would go on to hit two free throws and put the Knights up five. Temple could not close that gap.
Quenton Decosey had a career high 28 in the losing effort. Will Cummings, who really looked like a leader on the court, scored a season high 25. Isaiah Sykes put on a show for the Knights, just missing out on a double-double with 36 points and nine rebounds.
UCF advances to play Cincinnati, and Temple travels back to school. It is going to be an offseason until the Owls (with the exception of Pepper) get the chance to avenge the worst season in the history of the program.