West Virginia coach Bob Huggins took little solace in the fact that his team erased a 20-point deficit before falling to Temple in the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game on Friday.
Obi Enechionyia scored 22 points, including a 3-pointer with five minutes to play, as the Owls regrouped after squandering the huge lead to hand the No. 19 Mountaineers their first loss 81-77 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Temple (4-2) was harassed into 19 turnovers by West Virginia (4-1), but also forced the Mountaineers into 16 turnovers of their own -- one day after committing only six in a rout of Illinois.
"We didn't have the same energy (as in the semifinal game)," said Huggins, via the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "They had something to do with that. They did a great job of not panicking when they got trapped."
Freshman guard Alani Moore added 18 points for Temple, including 8-of-8 at the foul line, where the Owls were 21 of 24 overall.
Asa Ahmad scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half for West Virginia, which nearly posted one of the largest comebacks in school history.
Free-throw shooting played a decisive role in the outcome. The Owls hit 15 of their last 16 at the line while West Virginia connected on 11 of 18 for the game and 9 of 15 in the second half.
"We have consistently shot it very poorly from the free-throw line," said Huggins.
Teyvon Myers scored 13 of his 15 after halftime for West Virginia but had an off-balance 3-point attempt blocked in the closing seconds. Nathan Adrian and Tarik Phillip added 13 for the Mountaineers.
Quinton Rose contributed 12 for Temple, which upset No. 25 Florida State the previous day.
After committing only eight turnovers in the first half and leading 45-25, Temple lost six in first four minutes of second half to help the Mountaineers start their comeback.
Phillip, Jevon Carter, Ahmad and Miles sank 3-pointers during a 19-3 run that drew West Virginia even at 62-all with 9:13 left. Moments later, Phillip's free throw put his team ahead 65-64, its first lead since 7-6 with just over eight minutes to play.
Three minutes later, Enechionyia knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Owls back in front 73-69. Temple never lost the lead from there.
The Mountaineers got within one with 69 seconds to play, but Moore knocked down two free throws with 14.1 seconds left before Myers' 3-point attempt was blocked.
Enechionyia's fourth 3-pointer of the first half gave him 18 points -- one off his per-game average --with 3:09 remaining until the break. After transition 3s by Moore and Daniel Dingle, Temple's lead expanded to 45-25 at intermission.
By that juncture the Owls had made 6-of-9 from 3-point range and 55 percent of their shots overall.
" ... They put four guys on the floor who handled the ball pretty well," Huggins said. "If you had five guards on the floor it'd be harder to press, and they basically had four."
Behind two dunks by Enechionyia, the Owls reeled off 11 unanswered points to lead 13-7. They soon added two 9-0 spurts, one of which included two free throws by Shizz Alston after Huggins was assessed his first technical of season.
NOTES: West Virginia led its first four games by an average of 25 points at the half before trailing Temple by 20. ... The schools had played 70 times previously but none since 1998. ... By upsetting Florida State on Thursday, Temple extended its 10-year string of beating a Top 25 team.