- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - After watching Daniel Dingle start the big comeback, Quenton DeCosey knew it was his job to finish it.

DeCosey scored 23 points, including his team’s final nine points, and Temple rallied to beat UConn 63-58 Thursday night for its fourth straight win.

Dingle scored 12 of his career-high 15 points in the second half for the Owls (15-8, 9-3 American Athletic Conference), who overcame a late 12-point deficit by closing the game on a 21-4 run.

“Once we made the run and got back into the game and we were down two with two minutes left, I definitely told myself that it was my time to take over,” said DeCosey, the Owls’ star senior.

Shonn Miller scored 15 points and Rodney Purvis had 12 for UConn (17-7, 7-4), which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

The surging Owls have won seven of their last eight. The victory moved Temple into a tie with SMU for first place in the American Athletic Conference standings - a game-and-a-half ahead of UConn. Both teams are vying for the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament as SMU is ineligible for the postseason because of NCAA infractions.

“I think we’re one of the best teams in the conference,” DeCosey said. “We just have to stay focused, keep it going and stay together.”

Trailing by 12 with six minutes left, Dingle sparked the rally by draining three 3-pointers during a two-minute stretch to cut UConn’s lead to 56-54 with 3:43 left. DeCosey then tied it up for Temple with 1:50 to go and, following a pair of Miller free throws on the other end, put the Owls up 59-58 on a circus three-point play that he later said didn’t know how it went in.

Dingle, though, wasn’t surprised to see DeCosey come through in the clutch.

“He’s a leader this year,” Dingle said. “We depend on him to do a lot of things. It’s Quenton’s time and he’s showing up.”

After Temple’s Josh Brown forced a steal, DeCosey hit two more free throws with 19.9 seconds left to put Temple up by three. Before UConn could get a shot off to tie the game, Purvis was called for a double-dribble and DeCosey sealed the win with two more free throws.

“We just couldn’t get a shot up,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “I’m proud of our defensive effort. We just couldn’t make our shots and then we turned the ball over in the last five minutes.”

The Huskies led for most of the first half before Temple closed on a 9-2 run, capped by a buzzer-beating fadeaway from DeCosey, to take a 31-29 lead into halftime.

UConn took control coming out of the locker room with Miller sparking a 10-0 run to put the Huskies up 43-34 with 13:56 left. After scoring just two points in the first half, Miller had nine in the first five minutes of the second half.

Daniel Hamilton finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and six assists for UConn.

Devin Coleman had 11 points, including a key 3-pointer during the comeback, and Jaylen Bond hauled in 13 rebounds for Temple.

___

TIP-INS

UConn: The Huskies committed three turnovers in the final 25 seconds after committing only two in the first half. . The Huskies dropped just their second road game of the season.

Temple: The Owls didn’t commit their first foul until more than 14 minutes into the game and finished the first half with just one foul. . DeCosey has scored in double figures in 21 of 23 games . Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was sitting courtside and Dingle joked afterward that the 7-footer almost tripped him.

DINGLE ALL THE WAY

Coming into Thursday’s contest, Dingle had only scored eight combined points over Temple’s past four games. But throughout his up-and-down season, head coach Fran Dunphy said he never gave up faith in the redshirt junior guard.

That faith was rewarded as he watched Dingle bury three crucial 3-pointers like they were “no problem” with the game on the line.

“I’m really very proud of him because he’s a good human being and a real good teammate,” Dunphy said. “He has a great heart, a great soul. Just to see what he did was great.”

DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN

Although UConn had won six of its last seven games coming and remains in the NCAA tournament picture, Ollie was grim about his team blowing such a big lead.

But he was equally optimistic that the Huskies would respond to it well.

“This is what the character of a champion is all about,” Ollie said. “That’s what I believe. I’m not going to stop believing it. We do our best work in the dark. And it’s definitely a dark time right now.”

UP NEXT

UConn hosts Tulsa on Saturday.

Temple visits South Florida on Sunday.

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