With Dalton Pepper heating up down the stretch in the first half, the Owls began to build their lead, stretching it to as much as 15 before heading to the locker room with a 50-37 lead over Rutgers.
Pepper would lead the Owls in the half, scoring 14, and Will Cummings would add 11, as Temple shot 65.6 percent from the field in the half. The Owls would play a much cleaner half than Rutgers overall, turning the ball over just 4 times compared to 11 by Rutgers, something Temple would make the Scarlet Knights pay for, as they scored 20 points off turnovers in the half.
Jerome Seagears would lead the Scarlet Knights in the half, scoring 9 points, while Kadeem Jack would pitch in 8 points and 5 rebound for Rutgers.
The Owls would open the half on a 7-0 lead to stretch their lead to 20, but Rutgers would begin to slowly chip away at the deficit. Rutgers would close to within single digits with 11:13 remaining in the game on a J.J. Moore layup to put the score at 64-55.
Rutgers would continue its second half resurgence, closing to within 68-65 with 5:48 remaining and eventually taking a 75-74 lead with 2:49 remaining, the Scarlet Knights' first lead since about midway through the first half.
"A part of you is saying not again. That's kind of the first thought in your head, just not again," Cummings said. "You kind of just dig deep and do everything you can to make it not happen again."
Temple responded the Rutgers three-point shot to take the lead with a Will Cummings layup to regain the lead, one they would not relinquish again, as they held on for the 88-82 win.
"Certainly his (Cummings) play-making was great. I thought his last two baskets, I believe is what kind of saved us a little bit," Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said.
Will Cummings would lead all scorers with 21 points, while dishing out 8 assists and committing just one turnover in the game. Dalton Pepper would score 20, and Quenton DeCosey and Anthony Lee would add 15 apiece to give the Owls four players in double figures.
"Coach Dunphy talked to me a couple of days ago about getting more involved," Cummings said of his career-high 8 assists.
Kadeem Jack would lead Rutgers in the loss, scoring 18 points while grabbing 8 rebounds. Junior Etou would score 14, J.J. Moore 13 and Myles Mack 10, as the Scarlet Knights' comeback efforts feel short.
"It was a tale of two halves, for us, anyway. First half we didn't defend. It was our worst defensive effort of the season," Rutgers Coach Eddie Jordan said. "And again, it was a tale of two halves. We come out and the second unit of guys, whether it was D'Von Campbell or the other guys off the bench who were solid running the offense. We trusted it. We played better defense. We used a lot more matchup zone and that sort of got us back in the game."
The win comes at an opportune time for the Owls, as they will look to carry over some momentum into Saturday's matchup with #9 Villanova at the Liacouras Center.
"We need to build on this. We have a tough game Saturday," Dunphy said.
By: Kyle Babcock
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