PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Quenton DeCosey went to high school less than seven miles from Rutgers’ campus. In his homecoming, he scored a career-high 25 points and went six-for-seven from behind the arc. However, Temple lost the game.
“It was a good feeling being back in New Jersey,” the sophomore guard said. “Not a good feeling since we didn’t get the win. so…”
In the first game of 2014, Temple lost to Rutgers 71-66. DeCosey led the Owls in scoring, while redshirt-senior guard Dalton Pepper added 19. The Scarlet Knights were led by redshirt-junior forward Kadeem Jack, who scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench.
“I thought we had a chance to win the game,” Pepper said. “We just didn’t come up with the stops we needed.”
Temple made 24 shots from the field, shooting 33.3 percent. Take Pepper and DeCosey out of the equation and the Owls made 9 shots and shot 22.5 percent.
“They did a pretty good job defending us,” coach Fran Dunphy said. “Our shot selection wasn’t nearly as good as it needs to be. When you look at 24 baskets and only nine assists, we just weren’t moving the ball well. We weren’t moving our bodies as well as we needed to for us to be better on the offensive end. 19 offensive rebounds, which is pretty good. The effort was decent, but I thought we tried to take in in our own hands a few too many times.”
Junior guard Will Cummings and redshirt-junior forward Anthony Lee both struggled to score. Cummings shot two for 12 and had a season-low five points, while Lee went 3 for 15, scoring 8. On the other hand, Lee grabbed 13 rebounds, his second-highest total of the season.
“They tried to do some things on their own that they probably needed to trust in their teammates a little bit more,” Dunphy said. “They both, effort-wise, are doing a great job.”
Rutgers won the opening tip and junior guard Myles Mack got a runner to put the Scarlet Knights up 2-0. The teams stayed within one score of each other until the first media timeout, when Temple was up 11-10. DeCosey was the catalyst in the first stretch, scoring seven of the Owls’ 11 points.
After the timeout, Temple went on a 7-0 run. Rutgers responded with five quick points, bringing the score to 18-15 Owls. After DeCosey’s fourth three-pointer of the half, freshman guard Josh Brown hit a jumper, giving Temple an eight-point lead. Rutgers got another bucket before a timeout at the 7:21 minute mark, with the score 23-17.
Over the next 4:18 of game time, the teams combined for 8 points. Temple shot 1 for 11 from the field, and Rutgers shot 2 for 7. One Owls possession included three missed shots, including two attempted short-range shots. Sophomore forward Devontae Watson had Temple’s only made shot in that stretch.
Rutgers tied the game at 26 with two quick baskets. After trading scores, the teams went into the half tied at 30. DeCosey led all scorers with 17. Rutgers had 8 from redshirt-senior forward Wally Judge.
After a quick layup by Rutgers freshman forward Junior Etou to start the second half, DeCosey hit his fifth three-pointer of the game, getting his 20th point, a career high. DeCosey continued to lead the Owls, scoring five more points before the first media timeout. Despite his efforts, Rutgers led 43-42 at the timeout.
The Scarlet Knights then went on a 6-0 run. Temple called a timeout and managed to stop the bleeding. After not having scored at all previously, redshirt-senior guard Dalton Pepper scored all nine points in a 9-3 run to bring Temple within 1. Rutgers pulled back ahead 58-51 before Pepper scored seven straight points to tie the game at 58 all.
The teams traded baskets over the next few possessions, leading to a floor timeout with 3:55 remaining and the score tied at 63. After Cummings made one of two free throws, the teams each missed their next two shots. Redshirt-junior forward Khadeem Jack made a shot to put Rutgers up 65-64.
With 55 seconds to go, Lee made a layup to give Temple a one-point lead. Etou responded by getting a layup and hitting the and-one free throw to give Rutgers a 68-66 lead. After a missed shot from Cummings, the ball was batted out of bounds and possession was awarded to Rutgers. After an intentional foul by Temple, senior guard J.J. Moore hit two free throws to give the Scarlet Knights a four-point advantage. Pepper drove the length of the court and missed a layup, which Judge rebounded. He made the first and missed the second, sealing the game.
Evan Cross can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @EvanCross.