At the beginning of a men's basketball season where Temple sat at 1-3 after four games, finishing in…
Having overcome a double-digit halftime deficit, the Owls looked ready on a couple occasions to knock off 7-1 Texas at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon, a comeback that would have given them their fourth straight win and momentum with a couple games left before the conference season began.
But Temple's struggles at the free-throw line kept the Longhorns in the game, and Javan Felix's three-pointer with eight seconds remaining was the decisive blow as Texas pulled out an 81-80 overtime win.
Temple fell to 4-4 with the crushing defeat.
Anthony Lee had 23 points and 14 rebounds, but shot just 3-for-9 from the free-throw line and missed two big ones with the game tied at 73 in the last minutes of regulation. Overall, the Owls were 15-of-31 from the charity stripe.
"It kills you, they didn't shoot it well either (21-of-35), but we shot more poorly than they did," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
Dalton Pepper scored 20 points and had five assists, but after hitting a free throw to give Temple a two-point lead with 14 seconds in overtime, he committed a lane violation on his next attempt. Feeling the shot was short, Pepper tried to follow it but crossed the line too soon, and as it turned out, the ball bounced off the front of the rim and through.
"He just said I stepped over the line," said Pepper. "We were down 15, 16 points and battled back. It's tough."
So instead of a three-point lead, the Owls led by two, which made a difference when Felix – who had been 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-4 on threes – drained his only three-pointer of the game to give Texas the lead.
"Honestly, we were expecting him to make both and be down three," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "We ran some guards out there and the shot Javan got was the one we had wanted."
With no timeouts, Temple rushed the ball upcourt but Pepper's off-balance shot clanged off the side of the rim as time expired.
The Owls, who allowed 20 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points, trailed by 16 points in the first half and 11 at intermission. But after switching to zone in the second half and seeing the Longhorns turn it over 17 times in the game, including 12 Temple steals, the Owls crawled back into it.
"The zone saved us, because they scored 48 points in the first half and we weren't good at any aspect of our man defense," said Dunphy. "Our covering of passing angles was outstanding and got us some easy baskets. The 20 offensive rebounds wasn't good enough, and we got out-sized a little bit, but we have to be tougher. We gave up a number of second-chance opportunities, and 21-9 isn't going to cut it."
A Lee free throw and Pepper basket gave the Owls a 73-70 lead with 2:33 to play, but Quenton DeCosey missed a pair of foul shots and after the Longhorns pulled even with three free throws, Lee missed two more for the Owls with 1:03 to play and the game headed to overtime tied at 73.
"I don't know what it was," said Lee of his poor performance from the line. "I just have to get back in the gym."
Daniel Dingle's two free throws with 45 seconds left in overtime gave Temple a 79-78 advantage, and when Pepper rebounded the second of Connor Lammert's two missed free throws with 15 seconds left, the Owls looked ready to secure a huge win.
Instead seconds later, the stunned Owls walked off the court with their toughest loss of the season.
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