One week after Devin Coleman's three-point shot in the waning seconds sent a game against Tulsa to overtime in an eventual win over the Golden Hurricane, the Temple men's basketball team won in an almost equally improbable fashion on Thursday against Connecticut.
The Owls closed the game on a 21-4 run in the final six minutes to stun the Huskies, 63-58. Daniel Dingle hit three of his four three-pointers as the Owls rallied from 12 points down in the final frantic minutes.
Quenton DeCosey put Temple ahead on a three-point play with 1:10 to play, then hit four clinching free throws down the stretch as Connecticut couldn't even get a shot off on its final possessions. Josh Brown picked up a huge steal with the Owls holding a one-point lead, then the Huskies turned the ball over on a double drilbble and errant pass on their next two possessions.
"Credit to Temple, they didn't stop fighting, they didn't give up," said UConn coach Kevin Ollie. "You've seen that a couple times this year, they don't give up. That's a great coach and a lot of resilient guys. We just couldn't get a shot up. I take the blame."
DeCosey finished with 22 points and Dingle scored his career high with 15. Meanwhile, Jaylen Bond struggled from the field shooting 4-for-14 but grabbed 13 rebounds. Temple led by two at the half on a buzer-beater by DeCosey but turned it over on the first possession of the second half and quickly fell behind by double digits.
"It's not how you want to live your life, living on the edge," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "Just an unlikely finish to the game. Sometimes you keep plugging away and our defense improved in the second half. An unlikely finish, but we'll take it.
"We were dead in the water. We scored 11 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half. That's pretty poor offense."
Thursday's game was indicative of the season its been for the Owls, who have found themselves in several tight situations. They are now 7-4 in games decided by five points or less and 15-8 overall.
"It's a great part of our DNA," said Dunphy. "We're a resilient group."
Just as important as the overall mark is Temple's 9-3 record in conference, which has them tied with SMU for the conference lead and positiioned to be the No. 1 seed in the league's year-end tournament with the Mustangs - who saw their undefeated season come to an end at the Liacouras Center - ineligible for postseason play.
The Owls have won four straight and seven out of eight - the lone loss an ugly defeat at East Carolina - to at least bring themselves back to the edge of the NCAA Tournament discussion. Their next two games are at the Liacouras Center, Sunday against South Florida and next Wednesday against No. 1 Villanova.