AKRON, Ohio - A furious comeback by the Temple men's basketball team came up just short last night.
The Owls almost overcame a double-digit deficit, only to lose to the University of Akron, 67-65, in a non-league game before a crowd of 2,309 in Rhodes Arena.
Temple (2-4) trailed, 67-64, with 2.9 seconds remaining in the game when Akron (4-1) elected to foul Owls senior forward Mark Tyndale. He made the first free throw, then intentionally missed the second. That led to a wild scramble, with Temple gaining possession of the ball, but unable to take a shot as time expired.
"Some of that is you are in scramble mode; you are going to do good things, because they are trying to protect the lead," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "I was proud of our guys. They didn't quit."
Junior guard Dionte Christmas led the Owls with 17 points and eight rebounds. He made 10 of 11 free-throw attempts. Freshman forward Lavoy Allen added 12 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Luis Guzman and junior center Sergio Olmos scored 11 points each.
The Zips were led by senior forward Jeremiah Wood and senior guards Cedrick Middleton and Nick Dials. Wood had 14 points and seven rebounds. Middleton made of five of seven three-pointers on his way to 17 points and six rebounds. Dials added 16 points and five assists, and junior forward Jimmy Conyers contributed nine points and nine rebounds.
"Give credit to Akron, I thought they did a good job defensively," Dunphy said. "As I watched them on tape, I knew they could take you out of your offense. Akron plays really good man-to-man defense. They get up in you, and make you take tough shots."
Dials made four free throws and freshman center Mike Bardo made another pair to give Akron its largest lead, 62-49, with 4:03 remaining.
The Owls mounted a 16-5 run to close the game behind Christmas' free throw touch and baskets by sophomore guard Ryan Brooks, Guzman and Allen.
Temple scored on its first five possessions to take an 11-4 lead with 16:48 remaining in the first half. Akron coach Keith Dambrot called a timeout, and the Zips responded with a pair of three-pointers from Middleton and Dials to make it 11-10 at 15:58.
"I said [to my team] 'Will you guard them?' " Dambrot said. "I thought we made the run when we went small. I thought we had better spacing and moved the ball better."
The Zips used a 16-0 run to turn a 22-16 deficit into a 32-22 lead with 59.2 seconds remaining in the first half. Dials converted the biggest play, making a three while getting fouled, then making the free throw for a four-point play. That play gave UA its first lead, 26-22.
"We had some turnovers; we also had some offensive fouls and some bad shooting," Dunphy said of the scoring drought, which lasted almost 9 minutes. "A couple of the shots we took were low-percentage shots, and they would go the other way and score." *