The Temple men’s basketball team celebrated Hooter’s birthday and the team’s seniors in its regular-season finale with a win over South Florida on Sunday, 75-47. This was a bounce-back game for the Owls, who lost by 38 points to nationally-ranked Houston just three days earlier.
Throughout the season, Damian Dunn has been the team’s leader and go-to scorer, and he continued to show that Sunday with a game-high 27 points.
“I don’t want to put that title on it. It’s a lot of things that I bring to the table just besides that side of the ball which is making guys better, which is something that I’ve been trying to really work on,” Dunn said.
One of the other many highlights of the season was witnessing the growth of freshman Zach Hicks. In his first season with the Owls, Hicks was able to solidify himself as the team’s biggest threat from beyond the arc. Hicks was 4-for-9 from three-point land on Sunday. He was asked about how opposing teams have made more of an effort in defending him after his terrific performance against Delaware State back in December when he hit a program-record number of three-pointers.
“Obviously definitely after Delaware State, I made the ten threes. In the first game of the season, I was 50% from three. I’m still a freshman, and people didn’t really notice,” Hicks said.
This has been head coach Aaron Mckie’s best year of coaching. Last season, the Owls finished near the bottom of the American with a record of 5-11. This season, Temple’s 10 conference wins and 17 wins overall is good for the fourth seed. And McKie is likely to get some consideration for conference coach of the year.
“Last year we didn’t have a summer. And I know it’s making excuses, but we had incoming freshmen, true freshmen. They didn’t get a chance to get in the weight room. Even in the fall, we didn’t get a chance to get in the weight room. We didn’t get a chance to practice. We had the Covid stoppages,” Mckie said.
With the regular season now in the rearview mirror, the Owls head to Ft. Worth, Texas for their quarterfinal game Friday versus fifth seed Tulane. The Green Wave finished at 13-14 overall, including a split with Temple. Friday’s tips off at 3pm.