CINCINNATI (AP) — Trevon Scott salvaged an admittedly “bad” night with a play that might have saved Cincinnati’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
The senior’s tip-in with 2.8 seconds left lifted the Bearcats to a 64-63 win over upset-minded Temple in the regular-season finale on Saturday night.
“I had a bad game for the whole game, but it doesn’t matter,” said Scott, whose five points were 6.6 below his season average on an unproductive Senior Night. “For me to go out like that for the city, for the team, for myself. … After the game, my teammates were like, ‘Throw everything out the window. Look at what you just did.’ ”
Jaevon Cumberland missed a jump shot, but Scott was there for the wide-open game-winner, drawing roars from the season-high sellout crowd of 12,365.
“We needed every last one of them,” Cincinnati coach John Brannen. “I want to thank the fans for putting us over the top. It was a great night — emotion-filled for a lot of reasons.”
Cumberland finished with 20 points for Cincinnati (20-10, 13-5 American Athletic Conference), which already had clinched a first-round bye in next week’s AAC tournament. The Bearcats still can grab a share of the AAC regular-season championship with first-place Tulsa and maybe No. 21 Houston. The Bearcats went into the game tied for second with Houston, which plays Memphis at home on Sunday. Tulsa plays at Wichita State.
A loss to the Owls, beaten at home by Cincinnati by seven points on Jan. 22, probably would have left the Bearcats needing a third straight AAC Tournament championship to reach the NCAA Tournament. The Bearcats feel like they’ve been playing tournament basketball for a month, Brannen said.
“It’s exhausting, no question about it,” the first-year coach said,
Quinton Rose scored 19 points to lead Temple (14-17, 6-12). The Owls have lost their last five games and six of their last seven. De’Vondre Perry added 10 for the Owls.
Mamoudou Diarra scored eight of his career-high 12 points in the second half and Keith Williams scored all 11 of his points after halftime to lead Cincinnati’s comeback from a 14-point intermission deficit.
Cincinnati didn’t take its first lead until Williams scored on a layup ro a 55-54 edge with 3:26 left in the game. That was the first of seven lead changes and one tie down the stretch. Cumberland scored on a spinning layup for a 62-60 lead with 1:04 left, but J.P. Moorman II connected on a 3-pointer for a 63-62 lead with 11 seconds left, setting up Scott’s game-winning outback.
Cincinnati shot just 24% from the field (6 for 25), including 1 for 10 on 3-pointers, while Temple was going 5 for 9 on 3-pointers on the way to a 31-17 halftime lead. Alani Moore II made three of the Owls’ 3-pointers for all nine of his first half points. Temple took command with a 14-4 run to close the first half.
Temple: The Owls have lost seven straight in Cincinnati and 24 of 33 overall to Cincinnati.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats reached 20 regular-season wins for the 10th consecutive season and 39th overall.
Cincinnati celebrated Senior Night by giving John Koz his first career start in his 23rd appearance over four seasons.
A moment of silence was held before tipoff to honor the memory of Brannen’s father, John, in Cincinnati’s first home game since the coach’s father passed away on February 28.
Cumberland snapped a tie with Pat Cummings for seventh place on Cincinnati’s career scoring list. He needs eight points to pass Roger McClendon and move into sixth place,
Temple: The Owls will play an AAC Tournament first-round game on March 12 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Cincinnati: After a first-round bye, the Bearcats will play an AAC Tournament quarterfinal game on March 13.
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