Temple would build a lead as large as 11 early in the second half, but after a hard foul sent Will Cummings to the bench for the remainder of the game, the Golden Hurricane came storming back on the Owls.
As Temple looked lost without Cummings, Tulsa would begin to shoot the lights out, turning an 11-point deficit into a seven-point win, as they defeated the Owls 63-56.
While the Owls lost the game, the sting of losing their senior leader stings much worse.
“It was big,” Bond said of Cummings’ early exit. “He’s a great leader. He helps us out a lot when things aren’t going our way, so it was tough missing him in the second half.”
Both teams would stumble out of the gate Saturday afternoon.
Temple would hit its first field goal of the game more than seven minutes into play to tie the game at 4-4, and put an end to an 0-for-8 start from the field.
Both teams’ struggles would continue throughout the half, but a 7-2 run to close the half would allow Temple to head to the locker room with a 23-17 lead.
The Owls would shoot just 28.6 percent from the field in the first half, but the Golden Hurricane would struggle even more, shooting just 16 percent (4-for-25) in the half.
Temple would reemerge from the locker room looking much better, starting the half on a 12-7 run to take a 35-24 lead.
That lead would come at a cost, however, as Cummings was fouled hard with 16:18 remaining in the game. The Owls’ veteran leader would hit the court grabbing at his ankle and take a bit to get up.
Cummings would then hit one of two free throws to give the Owls a 35-24 lead, but would leave the game immediately after and not return.
With Cummings out, the Owls began to struggle, as Tulsa was just heating up from the field.
James Woodard would knock down a three and draw the foul, burying the ensuing free throw to pull the Golden Hurricane within 46-42.
Woodard would follow that up with a steal and another three on the next position, as Temple suddenly found their lead whittled down to one.
A layup by D’Andre Wright with 7:22 remaining would give the Golden Hurricane a 47-46 lead, their first since the midway point of the first half, and it would seemingly be all Tulsa from there.
The Golden Hurricane would continue to hit shots down the stretch against a struggling Temple defense, eventually topping the Owls by a score of 63-56.
“Will (Cummings) going out hurt us on both ends, I thought. He was really good defensively in the first half,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said. “We needed him in that second half, in particular on (Shaquille) Harrison.”
After making just four field goals in the first half, Tulsa would shoot 56 percent (14-for-25) in the second half to pick up the comeback victory and remain undefeated in conference play.
Jaylen Bond would finish with 16 points and 14 rebounds to record his third straight double-double for Temple, but Jesse Morgan would struggle mightily, going just 1-for-17 from the field, as the Owls’ six-game winning streak came to an end.
“We had some open looks no matter who was running the show,” Dunphy said. “We had some wide open looks, we couldn’t hit them. Also, we had a couple forced jump shots that are disappointing. We need to really make sure we don’t have that again.”
“We just have to get focused on the next game,” Quenton DeCosey said. “SMU on Wednesday at home is going to be a big game, so we just can’t dwell on this game, we have to start focusing on the next game.”
Following the game, Temple Sr. Associate AD Larry Dougherty confirmed that Cummings had strained a muscle in his lower left leg.
The Owls will need to hope Cummings heals quickly, as SMU could prove to be a very tough matchup on Wednesday.
“He’s big. Senior guard, point guard, leader, so missing his presence was big,” DeCosey said.
By: Kyle Babcock
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