"Right before the game, that's kind of how we went about he process. I got the ok to play the game," said Cummings.
Memphis got off to a fast start, as the Tigers jumped out to an 11-2 lead forcing Temple to burn a timeout and regroup. The Owls would do just that, closing to within 18-14 with less than 12 minutes remaining thanks to 6 early points from Quenton DeCosey.
Temple would continue to charge back, as Dalton Pepper hit a shot from beyond the arc to pull the Owls within one at 20-19, with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. Pepper would be sent to the line shortly thereafter, making both shots to give Temple a 21-20 lead. He would not be done. After the teams traded leads for the remainder of the half, Pepper knocked down a 3-point shot with just seconds remaining to send the Owls to the locker room up 37-36.
After a rocky start to the game, the Owls found their composure under the guidance of DeCosey and Pepper, who scored 12 and 10 respectively in the first half. Following a poor few minutes to open the half, the Owls looked much more poised, finishing the half with just three turnovers, while the Tigers had seven.
The Tigers dominated the boards in the first act, out-rebounding the Owls 26-16, as Shaq Goodwin and Geron Johnson grabbed six rebounds a piece. Goodwin would lead the way for Memphis in the half, scoring 11 points, as he went 7 for 9 from the charity stripe, something atypical of a man named Shaq.
The Owls emerged from the locker room still playing solid, holding a 49-48 lead with 13:38 remaining. After Memphis took a 51-49, Pepper would knot things up at 51 with two free throws, but the Owls began to wear down.
Memphis continued to hit shots from beyond the arc, gaining a 57-51 lead with 11:20 as Temple began to run out of gas. With little depth, the Owls were unable to maintain their tempo from the first 30 minutes of the game, getting sloppy late, as they fell to Memphis 79-69.
"We tried zone the one time and we just didn't get out quick enough on two of them and that hurt us...Hoping we would be ok with it, and obviously it didn't work. They made shots. I thought our coverage could have been better with that," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
While Temple fought hard early and was in a position to win, the lack of depth proved fatal in the end, as a worn out Owls squad fell to 5-9 on the season.
The Owls refused to use injuries as an excuse after the game however, as Cummings said, "A day is not going to get me out of shape. So I'd say I'm pretty much in game shape, that wasn't an issue."
"One or two more stops, one or two more makes and we're right there at the end of the game," said Dalton Pepper. "Every game we're right there. One or two more stops each game and we could right now be be 12-1 or whatever it is. We're playing well, we just need to close out games."
Pepper led the Owls in the game with 24 points and 8 rebounds, but the guard took no solace in the great individual performance. Quenton DeCosey finished with 18 points and Cummings with 11, but the Owls could not handle Memphis' size, being out-rebounded 45-28 in the contest.
Big man Shaq Goodwin led the Tigers in the victory, scoring 23 points while grabbing 11 rebounds, 8 of which were on the offensive glass.
"We're still a work in progress. I think we're putting ourselves in pretty decent position, but we're losing focus on a possession or two, which changes the whole momentum of the game," said Dunphy. "I like where we're headed now if we can get everyone healthy."
Healthy or not, the Owls will be back in action on January 14, when they visit Cincinnati.
By: Kyle Babcock