WRITTEN BY: TOM HANSLIN @tomhanslin
In March, college basketball’s mantra reads, “survive and advance.”
Temple did neither on Thursday afternoon.
Behind 26 points and 16 rebounds from East Carolina guard Kentrell Barkley, the Pirates defeated the Owls, 80-69, in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament at the XL Center in Hartford.
ECU (15-17, 7-12) will face top-seeded Southern Methodist in the quarterfinal round on Friday at Noon, while Temple (16-16, 7-12) returns home to Philadelphia with the hope of being invited to a lower-level postseason tournament.
Barkley, who entered the game averaging 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds, surpassed those marks in the first half alone with 14 points and nine boards in the first 20 minutes. The Pirates’ halftime lead was 36-29.
Temple managed to cut its deficit to one, 51-50, with 12 minutes left in the game, but ECU guard Elijah Hughes stepped up late, finishing with 17 points. From the first possession until the final buzzer, the Owls never held a lead.
Obi Enechionyia, who led Temple in scoring, tallied 20 points (8-of-18, 4-of-10), the first time he had done so since Nov. 30 against St. Joe’s. The junior forward was limited to three rebounds, which places his season double-double total at just two. Quinton Rose finished with 13 points and nine boards, while senior guard Daniel Dingle was held to only three made baskets on 11 attempts.
As a team, ECU shot 51-percent from the floor (28-of-55, 10-of-21), compared to Temple’s field goal percentage of 38 (26-of-69, 9-of-29). The Owls also committed 20 fouls, which resulted in 14 made free throws by the Pirates.
Temple finished the regular season with a .500 record for the first time since 1942-43.
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