Quenton DeCosey hit a step back jumper from the left elbow of the lane to beat the buzzer at the end of the first half for his 14th point of the game. It looked like DeCosey was on his way to another big scoring outing against Connecticut on Thursday at the Liacouras Center.
Eighteen minutes into the second half DeCosey was still stuck on 14 points.
A floater in the middle of the lane broke the scoreless drought and tied the game with 1:50 left. Forty seconds later came a DeCosey drive down the ride side of the lane ended with an acrobatic right-handed shot off the glass and a free throw to put Temple up by one.
The senior guard finished off his 23-point performance with four free throws to seal the Owls’ 63-58 win against the Huskies.
“Once we made the run and got back in the game, I definitely told myself that this was my time,” Decosey said. “I had to take over and make plays for myself and my teammates to try and get us the win.”
The Owls (15-8, 9-3 American Athletic Conference) needed a 12-point comeback to defeat the Huskies and tie Southern Methodist at the top of the conference standings.
Junior guard/forward Daniel Dingle set the stage for DeCosey late in the second half.
As UConn built a 54-42 lead with less than six minutes to go in the game, Dingle hit his second 3-point shot to cut the lead to single digits.
At the 4:26 mark in the second half, Dingle hit another 3-point shot to close the gap to five points. He hit a third three from the top of the key 41 seconds later to cut the lead to two before DeCosey took over.
“I was going to shoot regardless,” Dingle said. “I was trying to help us get back in the game. My confidence was high.””
DeCosey’ shot at the end of the first half capped a 9-2 run for the Owls, and Temple went into the break with a 31-29 lead.
Dunphy’s squad did not carry the momentum into the second half. The Huskies grabbed a 43-34 lead after starting the half on a 14-3 run, which was aided by nine points from graduate forward Shonn Miller. Miller finished with 13 points in the second half and 15 in the game.
Senior forward Jaylen Bond slowed UConn’s run with two consecutive layups off assists from DeCosey and senior guard Devin Coleman to bring the score within five. The Huskies responded with a 9-2 run to build a 52-40 lead with 7:48 left in the game
“I thought hitting that big shot, the momentum would carry over,” DeCosey said. “But like I said, we had a lack of focus coming out. We started to pick it up and fought our way back.”
Thursday’s win was Temple’s fourth straight victory—the Owls longest win streak of the season. All four of those victories have been by single digits.
Last week, the Owls needed a 12-point second half comeback against Tulsa to overcome the Golden Hurricane in overtime. A replay waving off a last second basket from Central Florida on Saturday helped Temple defeat the Knights.
“That’s not how you want to live your life, living on the edge,” Dunphy said.
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue