Basketball is a weird game. Statistics and analytical data can pinpoint a player’s strength and weaknesses to the smallest value, but sometimes that doesn’t matter.
Cincinnati guard David DeJulius entered Thursday’s game shooting 17% from three and averaging 8.6 points. Against Temple, he scored a career-high 26 points and made four three-pointers as the visiting Bearcats handed the Owls a 63-60 setback.
The Owls trailed by four with 20 seconds remaining. Temple’s Damian Dunn was fouled on a three-point attempt. He made his first two free throws and missed the third. Bearcats guard Jeremiah Davenport made one of two free throws with 13.7 seconds left. On their next possession, the Owls turned the ball over and their chances of winning faded away.
“We had a play set up,” head coach Aaron McKie said. “They took us out of it a little bit. We didn’t get to the side where we wanted to, but we could’ve ran it on the other side as well. It was smart on their part to get that pressure up there and take the ball out of our primary ball handler’s hands.”
“We had it set up to try and attack quick or even get a three-point shot out of it,” he later added.
Cincinnati (4-7, 2-4 AAC) may be the one team in the American Athletic Conference that has been impacted by COVID-19 pauses as much as Temple. The Bearcats arrived at the Liacouras Center having not played since Jan. 10 at Wichita State. They had just one five-on-five practice in that stretch.
Early on, it was Temple (4-6, 3-6) who played like it was coming off a pause. The Owls gave up a 17-4 run to end the first half.
Temple responded with a 10-0 run early in the second half after Cincy’s lead grew to eight. Jeremiah Williams knocked down a three to gain the lead. He finished with 13 points.
Dunn led the Owls with 16 points. He shot 3 of 10 but made 10 of 13 free throws. The rest of the Owls had just two free-throw attempts.
Jake Forrester’s impact depends on his availability. He is Temple’s best low-post scoring threat but he often battles foul trouble. Forrester had two quick fouls that sent him to the bench four minutes into the game. He picked up his third foul two minutes into the second half. He finished with six points in 13 minutes.
“This is something we’ve been dealing with since the beginning of the season,” McKie said. “At some point, we have to get past that.”
The Owls’ performance came down to turnovers. The last possession was the final straw. Dunn said the plan was to get a shot at the basket, which would’ve forced the Bearcats to make more free throws. Cincy’s defense was aggressive on the play and took Temple out of its look. The Owls couldn’t get the ball back to their primary ball handler, and their chances of winning slipped away as Khalif Battle lost the ball for the team’s 19th turnover.
“We just can’t be casual with the ball,” Dunn said. “We just got to take more pride in possessing the ball.”
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