As the clock ticked down in Temple’s 83-79 overtime win against Tulsa, Quenton DeCosey walked toward the Owls’ bench with his left hand in air, celebrating the Owls’ comeback victory.
The senior guard scored 21 points, all of which came in the second half and overtime, to help the Owls (13-8, 7-3 American Athletic Conference) overcome a 12-point second-half deficit to defeat the Golden Hurricane on Thursday night at the Liacouras Center.
“I just told myself at halftime that I have to keep being aggressive,” DeCosey said. “My shots weren’t falling in the first half, so I didn’t want to get down on myself.”
With less than 10 seconds remaining in regulation, DeCosey—who has totaled double-figure points in 13 of the Owls’ last 14 games—rifled a pass to Devin Coleman in the left corner. The senior guard rose up and knocked down the 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, following a 3-pointer from Tulsa junior guard Pat Birt with two minutes, 17 seconds remaining to give the Golden Hurricane a 75-74 lead, the Owls outscored Tulsa 9-4 over the final 1:42.
With the win, the Owls are in second place in The American, trailing Southern Methodist by one game.
“This was big to pick us up and get back into it, especially how we were down and struggling,” sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia said. “Any time you can come back and win a game like that in the last few seconds, that’s a big win.
Enechionyia joined Decosey in double figures, scoring 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Despite playing eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, the forward scored nine points.
Enechionyia, who converted a 3-pointer to give the Owls a four-point lead with 32 seconds remaining in overtime, has scored 48 total points in the last three games.
“I’d say my confidence is pretty high right now,” Enechionyia said. “It didn’t drop off that much, but I just wasn’t hitting shots. That happens sometimes. I feel like I am back in my groove.”
In 45 minutes of action, junior guard Josh Brown scored nine points, grabbed two rebounds and dished out six assists.
“He’s our heart and soul … he’s not going to do everything correctly or perfectly ,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “But I sure don’t want to play too many minutes without him on the floor.”
After an Enechionyia 3-pointer cut the Golden Hurricane’s lead to 58-56 with 4:47 remaining in regulation, Birt responded with a corner 3-pointer, increasing his team’s lead to five points.
Birt finished Wednesday’s with a game-high 22 points. The junior converted all five of his 3-point attempts.
He was one of three Golden Hurricane players to score 18-or-more points.
“They are really good,” Dunphy said. “They are a veteran team. They play tough, they play hard. … I really like their team.”
Tulsa, which opened the second half on a 10-2 run after a 27-27 tie at halftime, led 42-30 with 13:10 remaining. The Owls cut the Golden Hurricane’s lead to eight points but Tulsa responded and pushed its lead back to 12 points with 9:38 remaining in the game.
The Owls we were without freshman center Ernest Aflakpui, who missed Thursday’s game because of a left-knee injury.
The freshman started the team’s previous six games, totaling 91 minutes during the stretch.
“It’s day-to-day at this point,” Dunphy said. “If he feels OK on Saturday, we’ll put him in there. … it’s the other knee. Not the knee he had the operation on.”
Michael Guise can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.
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