Temple closed the regular season with a two-game winning streak when Quenton DeCosey's buzzer…
The eighth-seeded Owls were bounced from the inaugural American Athletic Conference Tournament by No. 9 Central Florida, 94-90, in overtime on Wednesday night in Memphis.
While their clothes might be clean, the stench from this season might take a while to wear off. The Owls finished an abysmal 9-22 in their first season in the American and saw a six-year run of NCAA Tournament appearances end with a sickening thud.
Wednesday's loss was similar to many this season. The Owls had a second-half lead and chances to win but squandered them with poor decisions and worse defense.
With Temple holding a five-point lead with two minutes to play, Anthony Lee fouled the Knights' Isaiah Sykes on a three-point shot. Sykes made the shot and went to the line, where he missed, but the ball went out of bounds off the Owls – a common occurrence throughout the game.
And seemingly just like every other time the Owls fumbled the ball out of bounds – and there were many - the Knights capitalized, with Sykes hitting a jumper to tie the game.
Junior point guard Will Cummings had a chance to win the game for Temple at the end of regulation, but he dribbled into traffic and threw up an air ball with four seconds to play, leaving the game deadlocked. Owls coach Fran Dunphy opted not to call a timeout on the play.
Following the air ball, Temple was fortunate that Sykes' fadeaway jumper at the end of regulation came after the buzzer, sending the game into overtime. Sykes, who missed last week's Owls' overtime win against UCF at the Liacouras Center with an injury, scored 36 points on 13-of-23 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Owls ran out of gas at the end with four players staying on the floor for 47 minutes or more. Even had they advanced, the likely would have been fodder for No.1 Cincinnati on Thursday night.
Quenton DeCosey led the Owls with 28 points and Cummings added 25.
Central Florida's play was only marginally better than Temple's and there was no truth to the rumor the teams set back the game of basketball back so far, they were going to hang peach baskets up before the overtime. The Owls forced the second overtime when Sykes lost the ball and Cummings drove in for a breakaway layup to tie the game at 82.
Temple will say good bye to leading scorer Dalton Pepper, but will hope to reload behind transfer Jalen Bond, recruit Obi Enechionyia and transfer guard Devin Coleman – the latter who won't be eligible until mid-season. Daniel Dingle – who missed most of this season with a knee injury – should provide a boost, while Massachusetts transfer Jesse Morgan could also be eligible, though his status is up in the air.
The Owls are hoping the incoming players provide a bright future, because the present is as dark as the Liacouras Center will be on Selection Sunday.
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