Cold-shooting Owls eliminated in NIT semifinal

NEW YORK - Quenton DeCosey's last shot, which proved to be the final one of this extended Temple season, looked to be on target, and according to the shooter it felt awfully good.

DeCosey, never one to shy away from the big moment, fired from the left wing at the top of the key. His eyes got big and his heart was pumping.

The three-point attempt at the buzzer, which would have sent the game into overtime, bounced off the back of the rim, and as things happen this time of year, Temple's basketball season ended abruptly.

Trailing by seven points with less than four minutes left, the Owls fought back but eventually lost 60-57 to the University of Miami in an NIT semifinal Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

"When it left my hand I thought it was good," DeCosey said in the quiet Owls locker room. "It was the right shot and didn't drop, and I just wanted to try to extend the season for the seniors."

DeCosey wasn't the only one who had a good feeling when he launched the shot.

"It looked good from the bench," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said.

The missed three-pointer was a microcosm of a frustrating evening for the Owls. Temple shot just 2 for 19 from three-point range, including 0 for 15 in the second half.

The Owls (26-11) will regroup for next season, and the performance of the team's lone freshman, 6-foot-9 Obi Enechionyia, will certainly offer encouragement.

Enechionyia came off the bench to score 17 points, grab eight rebounds, and block five shots in 27 scintillating minutes. All were season highs for the forward from Springfield, Va.

"We weren't able to guard him," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. "He did a tremendous job."

Enechionyia shot 5 of 9 from the field and hit all seven of his free throws.

"Whenever I start getting going, the confidence goes up and everything gets a little easier," Enechionyia said.

On the subject of freshmen, the Owls were hurt by a local product, Ja'Quan Newton, a guard from Neumann-Goretti.

 Newton came off the bench to score nine points. He played 25 minutes because point guard Angel Rodriguez missed his third straight game with a wrist injury. 

While the Owls had trouble from the perimeter, they also couldn't drive the ball successfully. Miami blocked eight shots. And that was with 7-footer Tonye Jekiri playing only six minutes before leaving early in the first half with a concussion.

Miami (25-12), which plays Stanford, a 67-60 winner over Old Dominion, in the final Thursday, was kept in the game by its defense. The Hurricanes limited Temple to 19-for-63 shooting from the field.

   Temple, which led by as many as 11 in the first half, lost leading rebounder Jaylen Bond with 7:58 left in the game when he limped off the court.

Senior guards Will Cummings and Jesse Morgan, who had carried Temple for long stretches in the previous three NIT wins, shot a combined 6 for 25.

  Cummings hit both free throws to cut Miami's lead to 60-57 with 15.2 seconds left. The Hurricanes then missed the front end of a one-and-one. Enechionyia got the rebound and Temple worked for the final, fateful shot.

"The play was for Jesse [Morgan] to come off a screen and he wasn't open, and after that we kind of scrambled," DeCosey said. "I found myself running to the ball and trying to get a decent shot, and I thought it was good but it didn't drop."

 


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