Devin Coleman simply couldn’t miss.
So when he pulled up from the top of the arc with a defender in his face, the shot clock winding down and the chance to give Temple an 11-point lead with less than eight minutes to go, it was no surprise that the 3-point attempt swished through the bottom of the net.
When the senior guard did it again with a defender in his grill and 5:28 left in the game, however, the crowd couldn’t help but chant his name.
Coleman scored a career-high 23 points on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting performance in Temple’s 89-80 win against undefeated Southern Methodist, the No. 8 team in the AP Top 25 poll, Sunday at the Liacouras Center.
“You go out there and just keep playing, if I make a shot, I make a shot,” Coleman said. “I made sure my focus is to get back and get on my defensive assignment.”
Coleman and the Owls (11-7, 5-2 The American) lost to the Mustangs three times last season. In each contest, Temple led after 20 minutes of play.
Temple held a halftime lead once again on Sunday. The Owls built a 49-39 lead at the break, but the Mustangs cut Temple’s lead to four less than eight minutes into the second half.
After Mustangs’ junior guard Sterling Brown’s layup made the score 54-50, coach Fran Dunphy called timeout.
“He said, ‘All good teams make a run, it’s time to focus and go on a run of our own,’” Coleman said of Dunphy’s comments in the huddle. “Thankfully we were able to do that.”
Junior guard Josh Brown, who tallied nine points and four assists, made a 3-point shot from the right wing coming out of the stoppage. Less than three minutes later, junior forward Mark Williams’ 3-point basket ignited a 13-2 Temple run to put the Owls up by 19 with 5:28 left in the half.
The Mustangs followed with a 10-0 run of their own, but the Owls made 11 free throws down the stretch to keep Southern Methodist at bay, giving Temple its third win against a Top 25 opponent this season.
“I am just so happy we were able to get this win against Southern Methodist,” senior guard Quenton DeCosey said. “Being that we lost to them three times last year, keeping us out of the tournament last year. This helped motivate us to seal the victory.”
A back injury to senior forward Jaylen Bond kept him from playing in the contest. Bond’s injury in addition to foul trouble for sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia presented an opportunity for more playing time by Williams and senior center Devontae Watson.
Williams had five points in 16 minutes of play, his most minutes since a Jan. 2 loss to Houston. Watson grabbed three rebounds in his first game action since a 69-50 win against Delaware University on Nov. 29, 2015.
The senior played 10 minutes in the game, including eight in the first half to help keep Southern Methodist redshirt-senior forward Markus Kennedy to 2-of-6 shooting in the first half.
“Those 10 minutes he gave us were critical,” Dunphy said. “I am just happy for him, that smile he threw out there in the locker room after game. That is as good as it gets in coaching.”
Along with Coleman’s 23 points, DeCosey added 19 points and redshirt-junior guard/forward Daniel Dingle contributed 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Dunphy’s squad had three other players score eight-or-more points—Brown, Enechionyia and freshman guard Trey Lowe.
“Guys were ready to go,” Coleman said. “That is what we try to focus on is being a team and for everyone to prepare to the best of their ability, so when they do get out there, they can contribute as much as possible.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue