The Temple men's basketball team defeated a Top-10 team for each of the last five seasons. It seems…
The Owls defeated the Scarlet Knights, 88-82, ending an eight-game losing skid that was the longest in the last 38 years for the program. Temple led 57-37 early in the second half but saw Rutgers take a one-point lead with under three minute to go.
That's when Will Cummings took over with a pair of layups and the Owls — who have struggled at the line down the stretch — hit 8-of-8. Temple is 6-13 overall and 1-7 in the American, while Rutgers fell to 8-13, 2-6.
"It feels good, just keeping the guys focused," said Cummings. "We got a win and now we go back to work."
Cummings scored 21 points but also added a career-high eight assists, while totaling three steals and only turning it over once in one of the best games of the junior's career. Dalton Pepper cooled after a hot start but still finished with 20 points as he and Cummings played all 40 minutes.
"I'm tired but that's you want to do as a competitor is play the whole game and get the win," said Cummings. "Coach (Fran Dunphy) talked to me about getting more guys involved. I listened to him and tried to make it easier for them."
Said Dunphy: "Certainly (Cummings') play-making was great and his last two baskets saved us. We went down after having a decent lead and he sort of rescued us on two drives to the hoop. Eight assists, one turnover. ... I like to see that a lot. We need him to be that type of playmaker."
Anthony Lee and Quenton DeCosey scored 15 points each for the Owls.
Cummings admitted he was facing some doubts when the Knights came all the way back to take the lead. Kadeem Jack led the way for them with 18 points.
"Part of you says not again, but you dig deep, do everything you can to make it not happen again," said Cummings.
There's no doubt the Owls needed a win, which they hadn't been able to accomplish since beating Long Island on Dec. 21. Facing a Top-10 team in Big 5 rival Villanova Saturday, it won't be easy to make it two in a row.
"They are a Top 10 team, they're going to come in here ready to go," said Pepper. "We have to match their intensity, throw the first punch."
Dunphy knows it will at least be a little easier preparing for the next game.
"Everything's better coming off a win," he said.
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