Stop me if you've heard this before; Cincinnati falls on last possession in a close game. The latest team to down the Bearcats in a tight one is the Temple Owls, who needed two overtime periods to finish off Cincinnati in a 67-65 nail-biter. Cincinnati drops to 13-6 overall and 3-3 in conference play, leaving them with very little room for error if the Bearcats hope to play deep into March and April.
This game was a hard-fought game with both teams trading points throughout. Cincinnati only led a handful of times throughout the game, including a 2-0 lead on Gary Clark's opening bucket and a 24-22 lead, again, on a Clark basket. Through the opening minutes, Temple took a seven-point lead, 9-2, on an early five points from Temple's Quenton DeCosey. Cincinnati was handicapped by two early fouls on Troy Caupain, which limited the guard to only four minutes early-on. Justin Jenifer came in, but committed two turnovers in only two minutes of game time, forcing Cincinnati to play much of the first half without a true point guard.
Caupain returned in the second half and closed out the game with 14 points shooting 4-of-15 from the field. Temple, meanwhile, would make another run in the middle of the second half, pulling out to an eight-point lead with 5:30 left in regulation. Shaq Thomas, Coreontae DeBerry, Farad Cobb, Jacob Evans and Caupain helped the Bearcats claw back into the game, setting up for a wild-finish.
Caupain, in particular, helped the Bearcats reach overtime with a pressure free throw to pull within two with 32 seconds to go. Caupain then took Cincinnati's next possession into the paint and tipped in a tough offensive rebound to tie the game at 56. Temple couldn't score in the closing seconds so Cincinnati and Temple went into overtime.
In the first overtime, Ellis and Caupain scored two points each to give them a 60-59 lead with just over a half minute remaining in the period. With 10 seconds left, Ellis fouled Jaylen Bond, a 40 percent free throw shooter, sending him to the line. Bond took his first shot and got it to fall off the back iron, despite Mick Cronin wanting a timeout prior to the shot that wasn't picked up by the officials. Bond would miss his next shot, leaving the game tied, extending the game into a second overtime period, tied at 60.
The second overtime was more of the Caupain show for the Bearcats, as he knocked down three free throws. However, Cincinnati couldn't pull away from the Owls. With 1:35 left in the period, Temple's Devin Coleman nailed a deep three-pointer to tie the game at 65 points. Cincinnati was unable to put points on the board with their next possession though, setting up Bond with another moment for late-game heroics. On a missed three-pointer, Bond was in the right place, at the right time to take the 67-65 lead with an easy putback. Caupain would turn the ball over on the next possession, effectively ending Cincinnati's scoring chances to close the game.
Caupain and Ellis led the Bearcats with 14 points each. Clark finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds, once again acting as one of Cincinnati's most consistent contributors. Kevin Johnson and Evans, who played 38 minutes himself, each dished out four assists.
This wasn't an efficient shooting game for either team, but Cincinnati really struggled. The Bearcats were 26-of-70 (37.1%) from the field and a paltry 1-of-18 (5.6%) from beyond the arc. Cincinnati also turned the ball over 16 times. They could only force the Owls into 11 turnovers themselves.
Leading Temple in scoring was DeCosey with 22 points. Coleman was the only player who could find a long-range bucket, going 5-of-10 (50%) from three, and totaling 15 points. Bond scored nine points, but three of those came at pressure-packed moments late in the game.
Cincinnati next plays at home against Memphis. They will tipoff next Thursday, Jan. 21 at Fifth Third Arena.