The Temple men's basketball season has been in a downward spiral since early December with losses in…
The Explorers turned away a Temple rally in the final meeting and snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Owls with a 74-68 victory.
"We just have to keep working every single day," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "We have some inexperienced guys, but we're just trying to get better."
The Owls had cut the deficit to two from eight in less than a minute, making it a 70-68 game with 39 seconds left. But after nearly forcing a turnover in the backcourt and feeling they had fouled La Salle center Steve Zack without a call, guard Tyreek Duren drew the foul with just 16 seconds left.
Duren hit both free throws, Dalton Pepper turned the ball over in the lane on the other end and the Explorers posted the huge victory, while Temple stunningly dropped its sixth straight to fall to 5-11.
"I thought we had Zack, to be honest, we were trying to get something going in the backcourt and we got a tip," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "When it got over halfcourt, we were trying to get anybody other than Duren. I thought we had Zack two different times, but apparently not."
La Salle and Temple are each 2-1 in the Big 5. The Owls can still earn a share of the crown by upsetting Villanova at the Liacouras Center on Feb. 1.
The Owls were playing without starting point guard Will Cummings, who suffered concussion-like symptoms nine days ago in a loss to South Florida and has missed two of the last three games.
Dunphy said Cummings was medically cleared to play, but wasn't feeling well.
"Will was definitely a big loss," said sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey. "He looked good, but he told me his head was still bothering him a little bit."
In addition to missing Cummings, DeCosey only played seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. He finished with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting.
"When I got back out there in the second half, I wanted to be aggressive and keep my team in it," said DeCosey. "I was a little rusty those first couple minutes, but I got in my groove."
Anthony Lee scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Owls, and Devonte Watson put up career-high totals of seven points and seven rebounds.
But the Explorer big men also had their way on the offensive end. Zack scored 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while Jerrell Wright added 15 points.
"It was a fun battle, he's leading his conference in rebounds, I'm leading my conference in rebounding," said Lee of Zack. "Unfortunately we got the same number of rebounds, but his team got the win."
Duren finished with 20 points and Tyrone Garland added 17 points for the Explorers, who improved to 11-6.
La Salle ended the first half on a 10-0 run and took a 36-31 lead into the break. The Owls closed within one but never led again — the first game this year they failed to have a second-half lead.
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