PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Only one thing was running through Temple point guard Will Cummings‘ mind after Rutgers erased a 20-point second-half deficit to take a one-point lead with just under three minutes remaining.
Then he did something about it.
The victory was the first in American Athletic Conference play for the Owls, who had lost eight straight games to start the calendar year, including its first seven league contests.
“You just have to dig deep and do whatever you can to make sure it didn’t happen again,” Cummings said. “That’s what happened tonight.”
During the losing streak, the Owls have failed to close out games. But Cummings made sure that didn’t happen Wednesday.
“His last two baskets is what kind of saved us,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said. “We obviously went down after having a decent lead in the second half and he rescued us with those two drives to the hoop.”
After Junior Etou made one of two free throws for Rutgers, Pepper scored with 57.2 seconds left, Temple forced a turnover on the other end and Josh Brown buried two free throws with 46.1 seconds left to put the Owls ahead 82-76.
Myles Mack, Rutgers‘ leading scorer who didn’t start because of a minor team infraction, hit a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to give the Scarlet Knights life. But after Temple threw the ball away, Rutgers gave it right back and Temple went 6 for 6 from the free throw line in the final 30 seconds to finally put an end to the program’s longest streak since the 1975-76 season.
“We needed it,” Dunphy said. “We needed it very, very badly. And I was proud of our guys.”
Anthony Lee and Quenton DeCosey finished with 15 points apiece for Temple (6-13, 1-7 American).
Kadeem Jack had 18 points and eight rebounds for Rutgers (8-13, 2-6), which has lost four straight and six of their last seven. Etou finished with 14 and Moore added 13.
The Scarlet Knights dropped to 0-6 on the road this season.