Temple Loses A-10 Opener To Xavier, 57-52
CINCINNATI (AP) — Another double-digit lead was slipping away. Point guard Dee Davis was at a hospital getting X-rays. Xavier appeared to be headed for another glum ending.
Gritty defense and just enough free throws made this one turn out different.
Travis Taylor made a pair of free throws with 11 seconds to go, and Xavier ended its longest losing streak in 31 years by beating Temple 57-52 on Thursday night despite missing its invaluable point guard.
Davis hurt his left wrist in a pile-up with 7:15 left in the first half and went for X-rays. He returned with a minute to go and missed a pair of free throws, but got the final rebound.
“It’s not broken,” coach Chris Mack said. “Beyond that, I don’t know. I think he sprained a ligament. We’ll find out a little more over the next 24 hours. It’s not broken, so I don’t think surgery will be required.”
Xavier (8-6, 1-0 Atlantic 10) wore its special gray uniforms, trying to snap a four-game losing streak. It was the Musketeers’ deepest slump since they dropped seven straight during the 1981-82 season.
They’ve led during the second half in five of their six losses. Three times, they let double-digit leads slip away down the stretch, done in by turnovers, fouls and missed shots.
They finally broke the pattern.
“Just an unreal feeling,” said Taylor, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. “We competed from minute 1 to minute 40. Anytime you compete that hard and play a team to the last minute, you deserve to win it.”
They held on against Temple (10-4, 0-1), which shot only 33.9 percent (20 of 59) from the field and couldn’t overcome an 11-point deficit in the final 8 minutes. Anthony Lee had 15 for the Owls and Scootie Randall added 12.
“They made a couple more plays than we did, got to a couple more loose balls,” said guard Khalif Wyatt, who managed only five points on 2-of-11 shooting. “We played good enough to win, but they were tougher than us down the stretch.”
Xavier is 48-1 at the Cintas Center over the last six seasons. Temple is 1-6 all-time on Xavier’s home court.
“It’s just a hard place for us to come and play,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “The home-court advantage has been great for them, and we didn’t do a very good job with it.”
Semaj Christon had 16 points for Xavier, which dominated the boards 42-31 against the taller Owls and overcame 10 second-half turnovers with its point guard missing.
Xavier’s already thin bench took another big hit when Davis landed hard on his left arm with 7:15 left in the first half. Davis played only 10 minutes and finished with three assists and three points. Walk-on Landen Amos played a career-high 16 minutes in his place.
“You’ve got guys playing out of place and you just have to manage as best you can,” senior guard Brad Redford said. “I think we did a good job competing and not worrying about who’s on the court.”
Xavier was aggressive from the outset, pulling ahead 20-12 behind its front line. Randall provided most of Temple’s offense early. He hit four of his first five shots, scoring 11 of its first 19 points.
After losing its point guard, Xavier held on for a 29-26 halftime lead by dominating inside. Xavier scored 25 of its 29 points in the point, following its coach’s pregame directive.
“Coach put on the board: ‘Play hard,'” Redford said. “That was basically his only message to us.”
Temple went on a nine-point run to start the second half by taking the ball inside, getting three layups and three free throws for a 35-29 lead, its biggest of the game.
Martin made a 15-foot jumper and a 3-pointer that put Xavier back ahead to stay, 38-35. Christon hit a bank shot, and Redford made consecutive 3s during a 10-point run that gave Xavier its biggest lead, 48-37, with 8:45 to go — another chance to hold onto a double-digit lead down the stretch.
The Owls cut it to 54-52 with 1:30 left, but couldn’t make another shot, missing a couple of open 3-pointers.
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