Missed opportunities and key injuries seemed to be the theme of the 2014-15 Temple Owls season.
Both Will Cummings and Quenton DeCosey missed open three's with under two minutes to go on Tuesday which would've knotted the Owls (26-11) even with the Miami Hurricanes and maybe forced overtime.
Instead, each fell just short and so did their season as the Hurricanes (25-12) came away with an 60-57 win in the NIT Semifinal.
“I thought we obviously shot poorly,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. “I think most of them were decent looks, there was probably two or three that were rushed, that we could have maybe shot-faked and gone to the basket, maybe a little drive-and-kick action. The three-point shot didn’t help us, but I thought we were at the rim a number of times, half a dozen times at the rim.”
As a team, the Owls shot just 9-of-39 from field (23%) and were a putrid 0-for-15 from beyond the arc in the second half. No misses were more painful than the ones late from Cummings and DeCosey.
Despite shooting woes, Temple still clung to an 43-41 lead with 8:33 to play in the second half. Temple's best defensive player, Jaylen Bond, was forced to leave the game due to intense cramping shortly after. With Bond out, the Hurricanes went on an 8-2 run and never relinquished the lead.
"[Playing without Bond] hurt,” Cummings said. “I mean he’s a big part of what we do in the game on defense and offense. Not having him was a vital piece, but at the end of the day, we have other guys who can step up."
One player who stepped up was Temple's lone freshman, Obi Enechionyia, who tallied career-highs in points (17) and blocks (5) along with eight rebounds.
His efforts weren't enough, but Dunphy is thrilled about his future.
“I thought he was terrific, for a freshman to do what he did and not only was he good on the offensive end, he had a number of blocks that sort of saved us,” Dunphy said. “He’s got a great future ahead of him and he played terrific tonight.”
After the NCAA tournament snub, the Owls were hoping to prove they deserved a bid by adding their only national tournament banner since 1969. Instead, the Owls, who're returning three starters and adding its best recruiting class in team history, will take another shot next season. But it's hard to be disappointed by the 17-win increase from a season ago. The future looks bright on North Broad.
Dunphy on Temple's season:
“I thought we had a really terrific season for this particular group. I thought they played hard, they did what they needed to do for the most part, it would be nice to still be playing on Thursday night but I’m very proud of our team, certainly of our seniors.”