PHILADELPHIA (TNS) — It was a 45-minute gut punch in Philadelphia.
Temple stunned No. 16 Wichita State with an 81-79 victory in overtime on Thursday at the Liacouras Center, taking the lead on two free throws by Obi Enechionyia with 18 seconds left. Markis McDuffie’s open three-pointer missed with five seconds remaining and the Owls prevailed in a game where WSU led for more than 36 minutes.
WSU fell to 17-5 overall and 7-3 in the American Athletic Conference, severely damaging its chances at a regular-season title. WSU is three games behind Cincinnati. Temple improved to 12-10 and 4-6 in conference play.
The Shockers missed 14 of their final 15 three-pointers.
The loss spoiled a night where senior Shaquille Morris became the 46th player in WSU history to reach 1,000 career points and the eighth in coach Gregg Marshall’s tenure. Morris finished with a team-high 24 points and nine rebounds, while Austin Reaves added 20 points off the bench.
The Owls rallied down the stretch to force overtime thanks to a pair of clutch baskets by Shizz Alston. His fadeaway jumper tied the score at 72 with 2:16 remaining, but WSU responded with a pick-and-roll between Landry Shamet and Morris that resulted in a Morris seal and finish for the go-ahead basket with 1:18 remaining.
Alston scored on another difficult finish, hanging in the air and maneuvering around Zach Brown’s outstretched hands, to tie WSU at 74 with six seconds left. WSU rushed it up the floor and found an open shot, a Zach Brown corner three-point try thanks to an extra pass from Austin Reaves, but Brown’s three missed.
In overtime, WSU’s defense produced three straight stops and Reaves made three free throws and Morris added a dunk for a 79-74 lead. But Quinton Rose drilled a three, Morris missed on the other end, and Alston made a pair of free throws to knot the score at 79 with 1:45 to play in overtime.
Enechionyia gave Temple an 81-79 lead with his free throws, then WSU called timeout with 13 seconds left. Out of the timeout, Shamet penetrated and dished to Morris on the baseline who found McDuffie on a skip pass over the top. McDuffie launched an open three-pointer, but the shot missed and the rebound was tipped out to mid-court as the time expired.
It appeared to be another slow start on the road — WSU has not led at the 10-minute mark in its previous six road games — when Temple made four three-pointers in the first six minutes and built a 16-11 lead.
But Reaves made his first three shots beyond the arc and finished a breakaway dunk to cap his own 11-4 run to give WSU a 22-20 lead (its first lead halfway through the first half on the road this season). From there, McDuffie made a jumper, Landry Shamet canned a three-pointer (his first make in 18 tries), and Morris followed with a three to push WSU’s lead to 30-23.
Temple closed to within two, 30-28, but Morris’ versatility was the answer. He hit a face-up jumper to spark a 12-2 run, which included a catch-and-shoot three from the wing and a strong seal and finish on the low block for seven points in a two-minute span to build a 42-30 lead for the Shockers. Morris finished the first half with 14 points.
The Owls reeled off an 8-1 run, highlighted by a vicious Nate Pierre-Louis down the middle of the lane, to cut WSU’s lead to 59-56 with 10:35 remaining in the second half and inject the crowd back into the game.
A pair of Darral Willis offensive put-backs pushed WSU’s lead to 63-58, but a 6-0 charge by the Owls briefly gave them a 64-63 lead when Quinton Rose stole Shamet’s pass and dunked on the other end. Shamet immediately redeemed himself, drilling a three-pointer to restore the lead to WSU, 66-64.
It was WSU’s first overtime game since losing 57-52 in overtime to Northern Iowa in the MVC Tournament semifinals on Mar. 5, 2016.