UConn falls to Temple in the final seconds
HARTFORD – Kevin Ollie’s disgust with his basketball team was noticeable in a short and to the point postgame press conference, one that lasted only two minutes and 55 seconds.
His disappointment was certainly understandable as UConn dropped a last second, 55-53 decision to Temple before 11,319 at the XL Center in its AAC home opener.
The Huskies, who have lacked consistency throughout the first 14 games of this season, shot a miserable 31.6 percent from the field, and scored only five points in the final 6:46. Their last field goal came from Daniel Hamilton with 4:01 left, and their final points also were contributed by Hamilton, who made two free throws to tie the game with 29 seconds remaining.
Temple’s Josh Brown, though, drove by Sterling Gibbs for a short jumper to win it with two seconds on the clock. Gibbs' desperation heave from half-court didn’t come close at the buzzer.
It’s back to the drawing board for the Huskies, who are now 10-4, 1-1 in league play.
“We have to go back to work, hopefully those guys look themselves in the mirror, I know I am, and hopefully we bounce back from this like champions,” Ollie said.
Despite his four late points, Hamilton is one player Ollie was particularly upset with. The sophomore made only two of 13 shots, missing multiple good looks near the basket. His struggles against Temple continued. Last season, he missed three free throws in the final seconds with a chance to tie in a loss at home to the Owls.
“I didn’t see no energy,” Ollie despondently said. “I don’t know what it was. I didn’t see no energy until the end of the game.”
Gibbs finished a meager 1-of-8, plus got burned by Brown on the game-winner. Temple coach Fran Dunphy called the final play for Quenton Decosey (team-high 15 points), but UConn covered him well. Brown then drove to the hoop, got by Gibbs, and drained the shot.
“It takes a special person to make that kind of shot,” said Dunphy, who recorded his 200th career win at Temple. “He was real poised and as soon as it left his hands, I thought it had a great shot of going in.”
Ollie also referenced himself looking in the mirror, and one move he may regret was sitting Jalen Adams for the final 6:46.
With the Huskies sluggish on offense, and trailing 40-32, Adams drove strong to the hoop, made the lay-up and was fouled for a three-point play. He then made two free throws, and another lay-up, scoring seven straight points to help cut the deficit to two and bringing the crowd to their loudest point of the night.
He was then replaced by Gibbs and never saw the floor again.
"I wasn’t surprised, I trust his coaching ability. What he was doing wasn’t to affect me, it was to help the team,” said Adams, who rebounded from the first scoreless game of his career in Saturday’s win at Tulane. “I always want to get in there in crunch time, but the coach knows best and I am sticking behind him.”
Another questionable decision was not fouling Temple in the final seconds when the Huskies had a foul to give. The sum of these parts equaled a disappointing loss.
Shonn Miller led the Huskies with 18 points and also had seven rebounds. Count him among the confused when it came to UConn’s lack of energy. Multiple times Temple beat the Huskies to loose balls, a disturbing trend to say the least.
“I don’t know what it was, but it can’t happen again," he said.
UConn will look to rebound against Memphis Saturday night in Storrs, and also try to avenge last season’s final second loss to the Tigers at Gampel Pavilion. Dating back to last season, the Huskies have lost four home games on last second shots, including Tuesday’s defeat.
“It’s disappointing, but the sun is going to come up tomorrow,” Ollie said.
It will. But without more passion and better execution, it certainly won’t shine on UConn.