‘That’s been a bitter taste in our mouths for some months’: Players seek to avenge devastating loss against Temple

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Erik Stevenson vividly remembers the game.

Wichita State held an 11-point lead with 3:36 left in regulation, and in an instant, the lead was gone. The Shockers lost the game in overtime.

“We let it slip away,” Stevenson said following Thursday’s win in the first round of the American Athletic Conference tournament in Memphis. “That’s been a bitter taste in our mouths for some months now.”

Temple drew the three-seed in the conference tournament after beating Central Florida out of the spot in the Owls’ regular-season finale.

“We’re not trying to overlook anybody,” Stevenson said, “but now that it’s here, we’re going to look at it.”

Selena Favela
Temple’s Nate Pierre-Louis dunks on Wichita State during the game at Koch Arena Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019.

Markis McDuffie continues to remember the seven turnovers he had against Temple the first time around. He can’t blame anyone but himself. Sure, his teammates gave up the ball 15 times, but he remembers as a senior he needs to lead Wichita State and its seven freshmen.

“We just let it slip away,” Wichita State senior Markis McDuffie said. “It was one of the toughest games of my career.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State’s head coach, Gregg Marshall, rubs his face after a play during their game against Louisiana Tech in Koch Arena on Nov. 6, 2018.

Gregg Marshall hasn’t let players forget what happened on Jan. 6 in Wichita. It’s been a focal point of his message time and time again — and now, he hasn’t been stopped bringing that into focus. Players expected to beat East Carolina, and since Sunday, they’ve expected to play Temple for a chance to add a chapter to the team’s season story. Friday, for more reasons than one, could decide the season — will it continue on?

“Everything will be determined tomorrow,” junior Jaime Echenique said, “so I hope we do a good job tomorrow.”

“We’re taking it one game at a time,” senior Samajae Haynes-Jones said. “Coming out a full 40 minutes is big, and we didn’t do that.”

“That’s what makes it more motivating, we don’t want it to be our last game,” Haynes-Jones said. “We’re going to come out and compete at a high level.”

Joseph Barringhaus
Wichita State guard Samajae Haynes-Jones goes up for a shot during the second half of the game against East Carolina on March 14, 2019 at the FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Joseph Barringhaus/The Sunflower.)