The Wichita State men’s basketball team is 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 2009, the second year in Gregg Marshall’s tenure, following an 85-81 overtime loss to Temple at Koch Arena on Sunday afternoon. It’s the first three-game losing streak for WSU since 2015.
It was a stunning result for the Shockers, who led by as many as 15 points, and by 11 with 3:35 remaining in regulation, only to allow Temple to reel off an 11-0 run to force overtime.
Here are the five takeaways from the loss:
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
1. A heartbreaking defeat — WSU had one of its best shooting games of the season and led by double-digits for much of the game, which makes Sunday’s loss that much more devastating. It also hurts considering WSU’s upcoming schedule: at Houston, then home dates against Cincinnati and Central Florida, arguably the three best teams in the conference.
“One of the toughest games in my entire career there losing that game,” WSU senior Markis McDuffie said. “We just let it slip away. This one hurts, but there’s still a lot of basketball to play.”
“Tough one for us to stomach,” Marshall said. “It’s one we let get away multiple times. It hurts a lot. We need to win some how, some way.”
WSU made 49.2 percent of its shots and outrebounded Temple by seven, 41-34, but a season-high 21 turnovers and a defense that couldn’t generate a stop when it needed doomed the Shockers.
“We have to keep grinding and pushing until we get a win,” McDuffie said. “We’re going to keep fighting, no matter what. We’re not going to put our heads down. We work too hard in practice, coach gets on us too hard for us to just sit down and be laid-back anymore. We’re going to continue to fight and come back with a vengeance.”
Despite blowing an 11-point lead in the final three minutes, WSU had one final chance to win in regulation.
Samajae Haynes-Jones held the ball out front and WSU didn’t get Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler out to set the ball screen until six seconds were left on the shot clock. Haynes-Jones took the screen and darted left, but was double-teamed and that forced the pass to an open Dexter Dennis to be high enough to make Dennis to jump.
That split-second mattered because by the time Dennis landed, Temple’s help defense had rotated and Dennis had to let fly a deep, well-contested three just to beat the shot clock that missed.
“I don’t know what happened,” Marshall said. “There was a ball screen where Poor Bear was the roller and Mark was supposed to come up behind the play. I don’t know how Dex got involved, but he did.”
2. Shizz Alston takes over — Wichita State appeared to have absorbed Temple’s best shot after the Owls rallied from a 15-point deficit to tie the score four times midway through the second half and the Shockers reeled off an 11-0 run to take a 74-63 lead with 3:35 remaining.
“We were in dire straights,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “We were in big trouble because you can’t get that far down in a place like this.”
But Temple’s defense strung together five straight stops and the Owls answered back with their own 11-0 run, capped by a floater in the lane by Alston to tie the game with 37 seconds left and ultimately force overtime.
In overtime, Alston took over. After Temple took its first lead of the game, 78-76, Alston’s step-back jumper pushed the Owls’ lead to 80-77 with 2:09 remaining. When WSU answered, Alston was there again, this time with the dagger: a three-pointer as the shot clock expired to put Temple up 83-79 with 52 seconds. Alston had missed seven of his eight threes before that final shot.
“We’re fighters,” Alston said. “We always know we have a fighting chance to win at the end. My teammates give me the confidence because I know they’re counting on me to make the big shot at the end of the game. I’ve been doing it all year, so I’m comfortable.”
Having a star player to turn the offense over to in clutch situations is a luxury for Temple. Alston scored nine of his 22 points in the final six minutes of the game and delivered the three biggest shots for the Owls.
“There was a lot of good fortune involved in that, but if you want anyone with the ball at that point, you want Shizz with it,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “He takes care of a lot of unknowns out there.The crowd here is so spectacular that it makes it difficult to tell your team to run any kind of offense. You trust (Alston) and he’s that good.”
3. Turnovers doom the Shockers — The first line on the scouting report on Temple’s defense should mention how well it forces turnovers. Temple is long on the perimeter with two 6-foot-4 guards and a 6-8 wing and had the fifth-best steal rate and a top-50 turnover rate in the country entering Sunday’s game.
Still, WSU was too careless too often and finished with a season-high 21 turnovers.
“We just threw the ball to the other team, that’s mainly it,” Marshall said. “There’s a million thoughts going on right now in my mind. I don’t want to pin it on any particular player. There were a million plays we could have done better. We did some really nice things, but obviously not enough. The biggest thing I know is we threw the ball to the other team or out of bounds.”
After WSU took an 11-point lead with 3:35 remaining, there were 11 possessions that ended the game. Temple scored on five of its six trips, while WSU went scoreless on its final five with three of those ending in turnovers, which Temple cashed in on for seven points.
Miscommunication led to two of those turnovers. The first occurred when Ricky Torres waited a touch too late to send a pass to McDuffie and Alston jumped the passing lane and created a loose-ball that ultimately WSU lost.
The second came with WSU clinging to a 74-70 lead and the Shockers looking to run clock with 1:59 and counting to go. After Torres crossed half-court and was looking for a dribble hand-off to Dennis, Temple’s Quinton Rose over-played Dennis on the perimeter to prevent the hand-off and Dennis took a step toward the basket and Torres fired the back-door bounce pass. But Dennis hesitated and the pass trickled out of bounds for an early turnover.
“I don’t remember me having that many, but I did have a couple,” McDuffie said of his seven turnovers. “The last three minutes, you have to take care of the ball no matter what to win the game.”
In overtime, WSU committed four more turnovers and one on its final chance to either tie the game or take the lead.
Haynes-Jones had scored to cut Temple’s lead to 83-81 with 42 seconds left and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but tracked down his own miss. On WSU’s most crucial possession, freshman Erik Stevenson took a ball screen and drove baseline but lost control of the ball going up for a turnover with 25 seconds left.
WSU had to foul Alston, who made both free throws to give Temple a 85-81 lead with 18 seconds left. In total, exactly half of WSU’s final 14 possessions ended in a turnover.
All nine players who played for WSU committed at least one turnover, while six players had two turnovers. McDuffie had seven.
“Everybody contributed,” Marshall said of the turnovers. “There were so many plays in that game, I can think of every single person having a hand in helping us get the lead and having a hand in squandering the lead. It will be a tough video to go and watch.”
4. Haynes-Jones makes it happen in transition — The Wichita native played one of his best games of the season, as Haynes-Jones finished with 22 points and three assists.
The senior appeared to deliver the crushing blow to Temple after the Owls had rallied back from a 15-point deficit to tie the score midway through the second half. WSU reeled off an 8-0 burst with Haynes-Jones scoring three baskets and assisting on the other one.
He broke a 63-all tie after getting free down low and finishing, then leaked out on a fast break and scored in transition and did so again the next possession, this time drawing two defenders and hitting Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler for an easy basket. Another Temple miss sprang a WSU fast break and Haynes-Jones again leaked out and scored in transition for a 71-63 lead with 4:34 remaining and forced Temple to call a timeout.
“That’s just my creativity,” Haynes-Jones said. “My poise. My instinct. I’ve been doing that all my life. I’m getting better and better at making better decisions in those quick (moments).”
Marshall and Haynes-Jones’ teammates agreed that when Haynes-Jones can be a devastating force for WSU when it can find him in transition.
“That’s when he was at his best,” Marshall said. “He likes the open floor. But I think he expended a lot of energy in that spot. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t take him out.”
“He’s one of the best I’ve seen in transition,” McDuffie said. “He’s so quick and fast. He’s electric. I’ll be yelling, ‘Samajae! Samajae!’ but then he makes the play and it’s like, ‘Forget it, that’s what he do.’ I know he’s going all the way when he’s in transition and he’s fun to watch. He gets us going.”
WSU’s two seniors, Haynes-Jones and McDuffie, combined for 46 points. McDuffie played all 45 minutes, while Haynes-Jones played 43.
“Those two guys competed,” Marshall said. “Probably played too many minutes, but the way they’re performing relative to the other guys is a significant difference. I’ve got to try to find breaks for them when I can.”
5. Wichita State-Temple adds thrilling Part IV — There’s something about the WSU-Temple series that brings out the best in both and produces thrilling, down-to-the-wire games.
Last season saw Temple stun No. 16 WSU in an 81-79 overtime win, only for the Shockers to erase a double-digit halftime deficit and rally to beat Temple 93-86 in Wichita. The Shockers also prevailed in a back-and-forth tussle at the conference tournament.
Now the AAC-version of the series is tied after the Owls rallied from an 11-point deficit with 3:35 remaining in regulation to force overtime, then win.
“We stole one from (Dunphy) last year and he stole one from us this year,” Marshall said. “Hopefully as he heads into retirement, he’ll look fondly at playing at Koch Arena. It’s been two tremendous basketball games.”
WSU honored Dunphy, the college basketball coaching legend who is in his 30th and final season as a head coach, before the game in his last trip to Koch Arena before he retires. His 568 career wins rank top-50 all-time among Division I coaches.
Marshall met Dunphy at halfcourt with a plaque commemorating his career.
“Pretty cool,” Dunphy said. “I said to Gregg, ‘You didn’t have to do this.’ And then he said some nice things.”
As for the games with WSU, Dunphy took time to reflect on the thrilling four-part series.
“We’ve had battles, there’s no question about it,” Dunphy said. “We are very respectful and appreciative of what Wichita State has. We appreciate everything they do about the way they play college basketball and the fans here are just terrific. They seem to get what college basketball is all about.”
Last year’s outcomes certainly was in the mind of Alston.
“It’s a great feeling because we were up on these guys at halftime last year and they snatched it away from us,” Alston said. “I remember that and it really hurt. This year it feels pretty good to repay the favor to those guys.”