Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Temple beats La. Tech, reaches NIT semis

Philadelphia, PA -- Quenton DeCosey registered a double- double with 21 points and 11 rebounds as the Temple Owls dismissed the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, 77-59, in the quarterfinals of the 2015 NIT from the Liacouras Center on Wednesday night.

DeCosey, who shot 7-of-11 from the floor, including 3-of-4 behind the 3-point line, was joined in double figures by Jesse Morgan and Will Cummings with 17 and 15 points, respectively, for the Owls (26-10).

With the victory Temple, which has made a 17-game improvement on its win total from the 2013-14 campaign when it finished just 9-22, heads to New York City and face off against the Miami-Florida Hurricanes in the semifinals of the tourney, for the right to play for the title on April 2.

Leading the way for the Bulldogs (27-9) was Erik McCree with 14 points, followed by Michale Kyser and Raheem Appleby with 10 apiece.

Shooting an impressive 51.7 percent from the floor, which included 5-of-9 behind the 3-point line in the first half, Temple moved out to a 41-33 advantage at the break. It also helped that the Owls suffered just a single turnover through the first 20 minutes of action.

With less than nine minutes gone by in the second half, Tech's Kenneth Smith (eight points, five assists), the Conference USA Player of the Year, went down on a drive to the basket, suffering what was later reported to be a left ankle injury. He remained on the floor while play continued at the other end and was then tended to by the Louisiana Tech staff.

Smith was carried off during the timeout and taken directly to the locker room and did not return. When Smith left the Bulldogs trailed 61-47.

With their floor leader no longer available, the visitors hit only 34.5 percent from the field, 1-of-7 beyond the arc, in the second half.

The Owls, who suffered only five miscues the entire night, converted 9-of-18 shots beyond the arc as they led from start to finish.

A two-time champion in this tournament, Temple has the distinction of claiming the very first NIT title back in 1938. The Owls took home the trophy in 1969 as well.

These teams met earlier this season, with Temple posting an 82-75 win as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, in what was the first-ever meeting between the programs.
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