PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Will Cummings had 21 points and a career-high eight assists, Dalton Pepper scored 20 and Temple snapped its longest losing streak in 38 years with an 88-82 win over Rutgers on Wednesday.
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.
Kadeem Jack had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Scarlet Knights, who have lost four straight and six of their last seven.
Rutgers trailed by 20 early in the second half but stormed all the way back, taking a 75-74 lead with 2:47 left on back-to-back 3-pointers from J.J. Moore.
Cummings responded with consecutive driving layups to put the Owls back ahead 78-75 with 1:30 left.
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 41.6 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 38 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 snap the program’s longest streak since the 1975-76 season.
Anthony Lee and Quenton DeCosey added 15 points apiece for Temple (6-13, 1-7 American).
Etou finished with 14 for Rutgers (8-13, 2-6) and Moore scored 13.
Leading by just three with just over three minutes remaining in the first half, the Owls reeled off a 13-1 run, taking a comfortable 50-37 advantage into the halftime break. Pepper sparked the run with a pair of steals, a 3-pointer and a dunk. Cummings added six points during the stretch.
Pepper and Cummings combined to score 25 first-half points for the Owls, who shot a blistering 65.6 percent before the break and went 5 for 10 from 3-point range. Temple scored 50 points in two straight halves, following its 50-point second half vs. Cincinnati on Sunday with a 50-point first half Wednesday.
Despite shooting 52 percent in the first half, Rutgers fell behind by 20 after Temple scored the first seven points coming out of halftime. But Jack scored eight points in a four-minute stretch midway through the second half to help Rutgers get back into the game against an undermanned Temple squad playing with just eight healthy scholarship players.
Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan is no stranger to basketball in Philadelphia, having coached the 76ers from 2009 to 2010.
This is the only year in which Temple and Rutgers, which is moving to the Big 10, are both members of the American Athletic Conference but the two programs used to be Atlantic 10 rivals from 1982 to 1995.
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