PHILADELPHIA – Temple scored with 0.3 seconds left to escape with an 87-85 win over Buffalo at the Liacouras Center on Wednesday night. It was a frustrating loss for a UB team that shot a season-best 55.2 percent from the field and held the Owls to 36.4 percent shooting.
The Bulls dominated the play inside as Javon McCrea and Mitchell Watt combined to score 50 points. McCrea finished with 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting. 24 of his points came after halftime. Watt scored a career-high 22 points and added nine rebounds and three blocked shots. The Bulls outscored the Owls in the paint, 50-32.
It was close game throughout as an early nine-point UB advantage was the largest by either team all night. Temple never held a lead larger than four points. The game was tied 13 times and there were 13 lead changes.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Dave Barnett, followed by a Watt alley-oop dunk from Jarod Oldham gave the Bulls a 68-62 lead with 4:23 left in regulation, prompting Temple to call timeout. Oldham made a circus layup with 3:09 left to extend the UB lead to seven.
Oldham made a pair of free throws with 2:31 left to give the Bulls a 74-70 lead. That is when the game took an odd turn. After neither team scored for over a minute, the Bulls had possession with 1:22 remaining. Tony Watson was trapped and fouled. However, in the process of fighting for control of the ball, he was whistled for a flagrant foul when he inadvertently elbowed Temple's Juan Fernandez. Watson converted his two free throws, but Temple was awarded two free throws and possession of the ball.
Fernandez made both free throws and later drained a three-pointer to cut the Buffalo lead to 76-75 with 52 seconds left. Following a McCrea layup, Temple's Ramone Moore drained a three-pointer to tie the contest at 78 with 23 seconds left. Zach Filzen missed an off-balanced jumper at the buzzer and the game went to overtime.
McCrea scored six of the Bulls' seven points in overtime and his layup with one minute left tied the contest at 85. Then the game got flat out strange. Temple's Anthony Lee's layup attempt was blocked off the glass by Watt. However, the shot clock was reset and once the Owls corralled the loose ball they had a chance for a final shot. Khalif Wyatt launched a three-point try in the closing seconds that was off the mark. Watt grabbed the rebound and the Bulls tried to call timeout to set up a final shot. However, the timeout wasn't granted and Lee poked the ball away from Watt and laid it in for the game winner with 0.3 seconds left.
Buffalo dominated many aspects of the game, but were hurt in two key areas – free throw shooting and turnovers. The Bulls made just 15 of 27 free throw attempts and committed 21 turnovers. Temple converted those turnovers into 31 points.
"Turnovers and free throws cost us tonight," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said. "It comes down to ball handling and poise. We have some really, really good players, but they're not seasoned in that capacity. We've got to be more poised."
Barnett registered his first career double-double with 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. Oldham had a career-high 11 assists to go along with four points and six rebounds.
Temple did an excellent job locking down Filzen, who was held to just three points - his lowest scoring output since the 2009-10 season.
Buffalo will return to action on Jan. 4 when it hosts Buffalo State at Alumni Arena.