As he sat on the winning Temple bench late in the game, shooting star Quincy Wadley had an ice-packed towel wrapped tightly around his bruised left hand.
About as tightly as the Owls' defense wrapped up Cincinnati for most of Sunday's 64-54 second-round upset victory in the NCAA tournament's East subregional, eliminating from the tournament the only team that beat favored Duke this season.
"It's very tough," senior guard Melvin Levett said. "Knowing what we did and what we could have done, to go out so early is sickening."
"Everyone has trouble against our zone, and we have trouble with it when we aren't making baskets," Temple coach John Chaney said.
Wadley did his part with his right hand, the one he shoots with, to make sure that wasn't a problem.
He came off the bench to score 14 points, 12 of them on 3-pointers, as sixth-seeded Temple (23-10) advanced to the round-of-16.
Wadley had missed three consecutive games before scoring three points in a 61-54 first-round victory over Kent. He was a much bigger weapon Sunday.
"I'm pretty emotional about that," Chaney said. "To see Quincy out there with the hand and him saying to me, 'Coach, I gotta play.'"
His eagerness helped Temple, in the tournament for the 10th straight year, get past the second round for the first time in six seasons.
It was Temple's first victory in three NCAA tournament games in the last five years against Cincinnati (27-6). The Owls lost in 1995 and 1996. Cincinnati just missed its lowest point total of the season in a 55-52 loss to North Carolina-Charlotte in the semifinals o the Conference USA tournament.
"I don't know if we were eliminated sooner than I thought," Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins said. "We struggled all year when we didn't make open shots."
Temple was led by Lamont Barnes with 15 points and Wadley and Pepe Sanchez with 14 each. Cincinnati got 16 points from Kenyon Martin, 14 from Melvin Levett and 13 from Steve Logan.
The Bearcats entered the game with a 46.9 field goal percentage but connected on only 34.7 percent. And that pushed them toward a second-round exit for the third straight season.
"Coach always told us that your will is bigger than your skill," Temple's Rasheed Brokenborough said. "We shocked a lot of people."
| Cincy's Kenyon Martin tries to hide from the Bearcats' ugly loss. (AP)|
Cincinnati struggled with its shooting for most of the game and trailed 29-18 at halftime, its fewest points in a half all season.
The Bearcats were tentative attacking Temple's zone defense and frustrated Huggins by allowing 13 offensive rebounds and committing 16 turnovers. And their lack of outside shooting allowed the Owls to sag on the big men inside.
"It's happened all year. We don't have a guy, when he's open who's going to make shots," Huggins said.
He could use a shooter like Wadley, who hit two 3-pointers and a 2-point field goal in the second half, despite his bad hand.
After Cincinnati closed the 11-point halftime deficit to 35-29, Wadley hit a 3-pointer and Keaton Sanders made a tipin to make the score 40-39. Huggins called that a turning point.
"Wadley gets a 3 in the corner then they get a tipin and it goes from six to 11," he said.
That helped finish 11th-ranked Cincinnati and eliminated another obstacle to Duke's path to the championship. The Bearcats beat Duke 77-75 in their fourth game of the season on their way to a 15-0 start.
But Sunday's game was played at Temple's slow pace and that was trouble for Cincinnati, which has scored 60 points or less in each of its six losses.
Desperate to score with the game winding down, the Bearcats closed to within 59-52 on Levett's 3-pointer with 1:02 remaining. Temple made it 61-52 on two free throws by Barnes. Then a putbacby Martin restored the seven-point margin with 48 seconds left.
But that was it for the Bearcats as they were forced to foul and watched the Owls close out the victory with three free throws in the last 47 seconds.
The Bearcats closed their 11-point halftime deficit to 35-29 with 12:59 left in the game with a 6-0 run capped by Pete Mickeal's two free throws. After Wadley and Sanders made it 40-29, the Bearcats closed to 42-33.
Then Wadley hit a 16-footer and, after Mickeal followed with a layup, Wadley answered again, this time with a 3-pointer that put the Owls in front 47-35 with 8:09 to go.
They led by at least seven points the rest of the way.
The Bearcats were so cold early that there were more television timeouts (three) in the first 12 minutes than Cincinnati field goals (two).
The game was tied 6-6 after six minutes before Temple's scrappy zone defense had the Bearcats struggling simply to get a shot off as several times they fired one up just so they could beat the 35-second clock.
When Logan hit his first 3-pointer, it was Cincinnati's first field goal in 8:31 and cut Temple's lead to 21-11 with 5:41 left in the half.
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