CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Temple coach Fran Dunphy hopes he keeps seeing career-best scoring nights out of Dalton Pepper.
“Pick it up now so by the end of the season he’ll be in the 50s,” Dunphy said. “But we’ll take what Dalton gave us tonight. He was very good.”
Pepper set his career high in points for a second straight game at the Charleston Classic, scoring 24 points to help the Owls (3-3) defeat UAB 87-66 on Sunday night. Pepper had scored 22 points in Temple’s 83-81, last-second win over Georgia here Friday night and he continued his scoring touch against the Blazers as the Owls earned fifth place in the eight-team tournament.
Pepper was happy for his achievement. He was even happier, though, that the Owls used a 36-13 run in the second half to take control and close out UAB.
“That’s what we’ve got to do every day,” Pepper said. “Get guys coming out like that and playing every single day.”
Quenton DeCosey had 18 points, Will Cummings had 17 while Anthony Lee added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Owls, who trailed 43-41 early in the second half when they began a 36-13 run to take control.
UAB (4-2) falls for the second time at TD Arena, losing a 97-94 double-overtime heartbreak to No. 19 New Mexico in its tournament opener Thursday.
C.J. Washington had a career-high 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers.
UAB’s Chad Frazier scored 34 and 32 points in his first two tournament games, but struggled against Temple’s defense and finished with 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting.
“We just couldn’t get stops,” UAB coach Jerod Haase said. “We tried man, we tried zone, we tried different lineups, tried (a) different emphasis. And when we did stop them, they got the offensive rebound and put it back in, so that really hurt our transition game.”
It was the Pepper and the Owls on the run most of the second half. Pepper had three steals and five rebounds to go along with 10-of-15 shooting.
Pepper’s layup with 6:18 left gave Temple its largest lead at 77-56. The Blazers cut that to 12 points down the stretch, but got no closer.
UAB and Temple each lost opening-round games here and bounced back with victories on Friday.
The Blazers held a six-point lead on No. 19 New Mexico in regulation and a five-point lead on the Lobos in the first overtime before falling 97-94 in two extra periods. Instead of hanging their heads, the Blazers rallied late to put away Nebraska and reach the fifth-place game.
Temple was stung by Clemson and its sizeable crowd of supporters at TD Arena on Thursday night. Again, the Owls dug in Friday to overcome a late Georgia rally and pick up a dramatic victory.
Temple led the Bulldogs by 13 points at the half, but were down 81-80 with 18.8 seconds left on Charles Mann’s driving bucket. Owls guard Cummings answered back quickly with a 3-pointer with seven seconds to go that lifted his team to an 83-81 victory.
UAB and Temple each wanted to carry over the momentum from those wins into this one. And while it figured to be a matchup of high-scoring guards in UAB’s Frazier and Temple’s Cummings, neither made a big impact early on.
Frazier had only one basket and 5 points in the opening half.
Cummings picked up two fouls in the first five minutes and spent much of the period on the bench. He also had 5 points the first 20 minutes.
The Owls were up 39-36 on a jumper by Mark Williams with under two minutes left, but Jordan Swing hit a 3-pointer to tie it at 39 at the half.