Written By: Drew Bishop
Photo Courtesy of: Temple Men’s Basketball Twitter
A sloppy start was converted into a strong second half, as the Owls secured their first AAC victory over the UCF Knights, 62-55.
Up to this point, Temple had mustered strong first halves against AAC opponents like SMU and Houston. However, they had yet to win a second half, resulting in losses in those same games.
“Our second halves leading up to this game, we’ve been running out of gas,” said head coach Aaron McKie. “For the most part we were small, but our guys were able to sustain and pull the victory out today.”
The beginning of the game accentuated the rust on both sides (UCF coming off a 12-day break), with the teams combining for 21 points in the first 10 minutes. By the end of the first half, Temple and UCF were each shooting 9/29 (31%) from the field and combined for 16 total turnovers.
A bright spot amidst the sloppy play was Quincy Ademokoya knocking down a three-pointer. The freshman from Norcross, Georgia, had his first shot rejected by the side of the backboard, but was able to put that behind him and hit a timely three with 12:19 in the first half.
To give a sense of the game’s pace, that shot by Ademokoya broke a THREE MINUTE scoring drought between both teams.
Despite the slow start, both squads rallied around their shooting from beyond the arc to conjure up some points. For the second straight game, Temple closed out the half with a buzzer-beating three. Last week, JP Moorman launched a half-court shot, but this week, freshman Damian Dunn pulled up for three with only seconds remaining in the first half. The three-pointer would tie the game at 27.
A point of emphasis for Temple this season has been second halves. In their first four games of the season, the Owls have been outscored in the second half of each game (162-131), including their only win vs. NJIT.
This was not the case against the Knights. Temple’s ferocity was on display with an 11-2 run to begin the half. Senior captain Dre’ Perry was the engine for their offensive output, contributing 8 of the 11 points, including this thunderous dunk:
From this point on, the Owls did not let up on the gas, holding the lead for the remainder of the contest. Temple won the second half, 35-28, with that 11-2 run making the difference between winning and losing the final score. Momentum is subjective in sports, but it is undeniable that Perry fired up his team with that slam.
Another noteworthy contributor to the victory was Damian Dunn. He led all scorers with 20 points on 6/14 shooting, much improved from his shooting against SMU. He attributed the better performance to how much the team watches film together.
“It’s all due to the amount of film study, wanting to get better from your previous mistakes.”
If Dunn can continue scoring like against UCF, both from the charity stripe (6/8) and beyond the arc (2/3), his role as the primary scorer for the Owls will be invaluable to the team’s success.
Now, Temple faces a quick adjustment to their schedule.
What was originally intended to be a road matchup against Eastern Carolina has been switched to Tulane due to COVID-19 issues with ECU.
Temple will face Tulane on Saturday at 1 p.m.