Owls to rely on Decosey’s lead

Quenton DeCosey’s play will determine the team’s success in the NCAA tournament.

Quenton DeCosey (right), talks to Ernest Aflakpui during a recent practice at the team’s practice facility at Pearson Hall. | MARGO REED TTN

Coach Fran Dunphy does not let Quenton DeCosey forget the duty he has to his 12 teammates.

The senior guard is one of four Owls playing their final year of eligibility for the team, but DeCosey’s role stands above the rest.

DeCosey leads the Owls in scoring and field goals made, while ranking second in rebounds, minutes and assists. After a regular season where he set career highs in seven statistical categories, DeCosey was a unanimous first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection.

“He’s very important,” Dunphy said. “He’s one of our leaders, a scoring leader, and we’ve talked about his responsibility. He’s a first team all-conference player. When they give you that award or honor, there is a tremendous responsibility that comes with that.”

With the Owls as a No. 10 seed for the NCAA tournament beginning on Friday in Brooklyn, New York, against No. 7 seed, the University of Iowa, the team’s postseason fate rests on the back of DeCosey and No. 25 jersey, the team’s offensive engine.

Decosey averaged 15.6 points per game this season, and the Owls were 14-1 when the senior guard scored 15 or more points. DeCosey also totaled 10 or more points in 29 of the team’s 32 games.

“He’s our main scorer,” sophomore forward Obi Enechionyia said. “We look at him to make the big plays. A first team all-American conference player is important to the team.”

DeCosey shoulders the Owls’ offensive load almost every minute he is on the floor. The senior is trusted to make crucial decisions in crunch time, like when the Owls need a bucket with the shot or game clock counting down.

In the team’s 63-61 win against Central Florida on Feb. 27, DeCosey used a pump fake at the foul line to create space and hit the game-winning shot with 3.1 seconds left, lifting the team to its 11th win by seven points or fewer this season.

“Not too many people can guard him one-on-one,” junior guard Josh Brown said. “So we put the ball in his hands and tell him to make a play.”

But the constant offensive responsibility may have taken its toll on the senior, who has scored 152 more points than anyone else on the team, attempted 95 more field goals and is one of two players to play more than 1,000 minutes this season.

In the loss on Saturday to Connecticut in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament, DeCosey scored 14 points on 4-of-17 from the field.

In the team’s two conference tournament games at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, DeCosey shot 7-of-30 from the field, including 1-of-10 from 3-point range.

The style of play from DeCosey Temple fans have become accustomed to watching fell by the wayside at the conference tournamnet against a superior team in Connecticut.

“I’m not tired,” DeCosey said. “I don’t know what’s going on. I just need to get back in the gym and keep working on my shot. Shooters don’t stop shooting.”

Since the calendar turned to February, DeCosey has shot 50-of-155 from the field in the team’s last 12 games. In the same span, DeCosey has shot 40 percent or better from the field three times.

In the team’s previous 20 games, the guard shot 40 percent or better from the field 13 times.

So when struggling to shoot, Temple’s swiss army knife must find different ways to contribute, which is what Dunphy preaches to DeCosey.

“Maybe you aren’t going to shoot it great for stretches of the game but you can sure as hell do some things on the defensive end and rebound to be there for your teammates,” Dunphy said of DeCosey’s role. “There are so many things that go into being a good teammate.”

The last Owl to lead the team through the NCAA tournament was Khalif Wyatt. In his final appearance in March’s most prestigious tournament, the guard scored 62 total points in two games, nearly leading the No. 9 seed Owls to a Sweet 16 appearance and an upset win against No. 1 seed Indiana University Bloomington.

With March the time when local school stars become national legends, DeCosey has the chance to join the likes of Wyatt and others by leading the Owls into a deep March run or hitting another clutch game-winning shot.

Michael Guise can be reached at michael.guise@temple.edu or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.

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