Jourdain’s game-winner pushes Temple past UCF in final home game of the season

Written by: Rymir Vaughn

Photo by: Andrew Mayo

For its final home game of the regular season, Temple men’s basketball (16-14, 10-7 American Athletic Conference) defeated Central Florida (16-13, 7-10 AAC) 57-55 at The Liacouras Center.

With the game on the line, guard Damian Dunn missed a potential game-winning free throw. However, forward Nick Jourdain grabbed an offensive rebound and converted on the game-winning basket.

“I definitely felt the tension,” Jourdain said about his emotions during the final moments.

Temple’s win clinched it a bye in the first round of next week’s American Athletic Conference Tournament at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. With one game remaining, the Owls could move up as high as the third seed with a win against Tulane on Sunday.

Key Takeaways

This pivotal AAC matchup was a back-and-forth defensive contest, with neither team able to make efficient shots. Temple made 18-49 field goals, including 6-23 from three-point range. 

Dunn scored a team-high 11 points but went 0-5 from the floor during the first half. Despite his early struggles, Dunn still made an impact by making plays on both sides of the ball.

A few contributors stepped up in the absence of guard Khalif Battle, who is not returning this season, per Temple head coach Aaron McKie.

“We’re just going with the guys that we got,” McKie said.

Both teams struggled to find their footing before halftime. In the first seven minutes of the game, Temple only made two shots from the floor. UCF would go on to match Temple’s lack of production offensively by going on its own seven minute first-half scoring drought. 

UCF never woke up. The Knights went 17-44 from the floor, including 6-23 from beyond the arc.

Guard C.J. Kelly poured in a game-high 19 points and was a huge reason why UCF nearly made a comeback. Additionally, forward Taylor Hendricks added 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Turning points

The second half was defined by runs.

Over the first nine minutes of the half, the Owls went on a 21-14 run to give them a 45-34 lead. The run was led by Dunn and forward Zach Hicks, who each scored six points.

Moments later, UCF answered this run by going on a 17-7 run, led by Hendricks and  Kelly.

The final stretch

Hendricks hit a pullup jumper that gave UCF a 53-52 lead with 28 seconds remaining. On the ensuing possession, Dunn drove into the paint and drew a foul. He would convert both free throws to give Temple a 54-53 lead.

“He’s probably one of the best players in the country on the collegiate level that gets to the free throw line.” McKie said.

On UCF’s next possession, Kelly would continue his productive second half by making a heavily contested layup, giving UCF the lead once again.

After that basket, Dunn pushed the pace and drove into the paint, drawing a foul once again. This time around, Dunn missed the second free throw, but Jourdain secured an offensive rebound under the rim and converted a layup to ice the game.

This play was by design.

“Kur dove across and screened Nick’s man,” McKie said.”Nick came rolling around, and we got the right bounce”

Temple lost 5 of 6 games before tonight’s matchup, so pulling out a win against UCF could ignite the Owls and give them a chance to win games at the AAC Tournament. To make things easier, Temple could knock off Tulane Sunday at 2 p.m. and find themselves in a more suitable matchup.


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