SUNDAY in the NCAA Men’s saw a monumental upset as the number-one seeded Houston Cougars were stunned by the Temple Owls, as the latter claimed a one-point triumph at Fertitta Center.
Coming into the game, the Cougars were the best ranked Men’s college side in the country, and had lost just one match this season, while the Owls had shown glimpses, but were heavy underdogs.
However, Temple flipped the script and stunned the nation with a tense, but impressive result. It could prove to be a vital result in the context of the entire NCAA, with Houston likely to slip in the coming days as a result. On the other hand, Temple’s victory was remarkable given the fact that it is not ranked inside the top 25, so it was the most shocking result of the season based on that merit.
Houston Cougars (55) def. by Temple Owls (55)
It was an extremely hard fought match from the very first tip, with Temple matching it on both ends. The defence from the Owls – particularly in the paint – was ruthless, and the Houston big men found the going a bit tougher than usual. The lead changed hands a number of times early on, as the Cougars met their match as the opposition answered any production from the home side. At the main change, proceedings were tied, and fans at Fertitta Center were stunned as the unseeded Owls looked to cause a massive boilover.
The visitors managed to edge ahead slightly in the second half, but Houston was always within striking distance. There were big baskets from both inside and outside the arc, but the defence was constantly present from both side. Unfortunately, the Cougars struggled from behind the arc in the final half, shooting 1/7 from downtown in this time. Despite those shooting woes, the home side was still within a point in the dying stages of the game.
In a tense final few minutes, both sides had the opportunity to put the game away, but Temple’s one-point lead lingered. Some tough guarding from Houston with just seconds remaining looked to have forced the Owls into a shot clock violation, but it was not ruled to be, and Temple secured the ball again in smart fashion. After a late-game alley-oop from the Cougars missed on the final buzzer, the win was secured for an ecstatic Temple outfit.
In a low-scoring match, there were no massive individual scorers, although some players stood above the rest. Temple’s Damian Dunn top scored with 16 points, with most of his production coming from the charity stripe, going 7/8 from this territory. Teammate Zach Hicks was also impressive, racking up 12 points thanks to four triples. Jamal Shead was Houston’s best with 13 points, while Michael Sasser was strong with 12 of his own.