As Quenton DeCosey made his way through the swarm of students on the court after Temple’s win against undefeated Southern Methodist on Sunday at the Liacouras Center, he couldn’t help himself.
Wearing a grin from ear-to-ear, the senior guard greeted every person blocking his exit path from the floor after the Owls’ 89-80 victory against the No. 8 team in the AP Top 25 poll with a high-five or handshake.
Sitting at the podium next to teammate Devin Coleman in the Al Shrier Media Room after the game, DeCosey explained that the third win against a Top 10 team in his four-year career, a game in which he scored 19 points, may have been the sweetest.
“It’s right up there,” DeCosey said. “I think this one I contributed a lot more than the other ones, so I think this is probably number one.”
Coach Fran Dunphy’s team could not figure out the Mustangs last season. Southern Methodist defeated Temple three times last season after the Mustangs trailed at halftime in all three games.
The last victory came in The American Athletic Conference tournament semifinal on March 14, 2015. The Mustangs’ halted the Owl’s hopes of an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament with a 69-56 victory.
“That probably kept us out of the tournament last year,” DeCosey “So it definitely motivated us to just come in and seal the victory.”
When the Owls’ 12-point lead in the second half of Sunday’s game dwindled to four, it looked like Temple hadn’t exercised its demons from its three losses to the Mustangs last year.
However, after a Dunphy timeout, Temple regrouped and responded, scoring 24 of the game’s next 33 points to build a 19-point advantage with 5:28 left in the contest.
“We had that stretch in the second half of all three games that we just, we didn’t weather the storm,” Dunphy said. “Obviously we had to weather the storm here today, they cut it to four. … We got ourselves back together again. I think that’s the important thing.”
The Owls had to wait an extra day for their revenge at the Mustangs—the last unbeaten team in Division I—due to the wintry conditions caused by Winter Storm Jonas.
An announced crowd of 6,096 people braved the snowy roads to watch the Owls’ matchup with the No. 8 team in Division I. Most were jam-packed under the large yellow owl eyes hovering over Temple’s student section.
After the final buzzer sounded, the students in attendance stormed the court, celebrating the team’s first Top 10 victory of the season—Temple’s seventh in eight years—with an “I believe” chant on top of the Temple “T” at midcourt.
“It was surreal,” DeCosey said. “I was just so happy that we were able to get this win… I was happy for the fans that came out and supported us with this bad weather. … I was just happy we could get a win for them.”
In the 2015-16 season, the Owls have been tested by ranked opponents. Six of their eighteen games have been against Top 25 teams.
The Owls are now 3-3 in those contests and 3-0 in their last three games against ranked teams.
“Thank god I don’t have to play Fran again,” Brown said. “I looked at their schedule, the people they had to play this year. I think it prepares them for games like us, quality teams.”
Temple is now 11-7 overall and tied for second in The American with a 5-2 mark. The Owls have trips to East Carolina (9-11, 1-6 The American) and South Florida (4-17, 1-7 The American) looming this week.
“We played so many good teams early on and we couldn’t find any kind of rhythm,” Dunphy said. “And now we seem to have one, but we’re going on the road two times this week, so we better have a good rhythm and have an understanding of how hard this is going to be.”
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.