Instant Replay: Rutgers 71, Temple 66

Instant Replay: Rutgers 71, Temple 66
January 1, 2014, 10:00 pm
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Dalton Pepper scored 19 points, but Temple fell, 71-66, to Rutgers in its first American Athletic Conference game. (USA Today Images)

BOX SCORE

Temple took the floor with eight scholarship players Wednesday night, but only two showed up.

Sophomore Quenton DeCosey and fifth-year senior Dalton Pepper combined for 44 points, but their efforts weren't enough as Temple ended up dropping its first-ever game in the American Athletic Conference, 71-66, at Rutgers.

DeCosey scored a career-high 25 points and Pepper scored all 19 of his points in a row in the second half.

Still, the Owls are now 0-1 in their new league and just 5-6 this season overall.

Turning point
The Owls found themselves down by their largest margin of the night, 49-42 with 10:50 to play, and that's when Pepper decided to wake up. After going 29 minutes and 46 seconds without a point, he scored 19 straight points over the next six minutes to put Temple ahead, 61-59, with a little more than four minutes left.

From there, the game was tied twice and the lead changed hands twice before Junior Etou made the game-winning basket with 41 seconds to play. Etou drove, crashed into Temple's Anthony Lee, made the basket, and got the call. His foul shot put Rutgers up 68-66.

Temple went down the other end in an attempt to tie, but WIll Cummings air-balled a jumper that ended going out of bounds off Josh Brown, who attempted to save it.

The Scarlet Knights tacked on three more free throws at the end to ice it.

B.M.O.C.
DeCosey led all scorers with a game-high 25, going 9 for 14 from the field and 6 for 7 from three. His only miss from behind the arc came within the final 10 seconds of the game on a desperate attempt. He wanted a foul call -- didn't get it.

DeCosey actually accounted for 15 of Temple's first 21 points and 17 of their 30 points at the half. He was 6 of 7 shooting by himself in the first half, and his teammates were 6 of 31.

Pepper finished 6 of 18 from the field.

For Rutgers, 6-foot-9 forward Kadeem Jack led the Scarlet Knights with a team-high 18 points. Fellow 6-foot-9 forward Wally Judge added 12 points and nine rebounds. Temple continues to struggle with interior defense.

Injury report
A Temple spokesman confirmed Wednesday that Daniel Dingle, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will undergo arthroscopic surgery next week.

The Owls expect that Dingle is likely done for the year, but an official determination on his status cannot be made until after the surgery is completed (see story).

Dingle spent Wednesday night on the Temple bench in sweatpants and moved around on crutches.

Hi, Bye
Temple and Rutgers will meet again at the Liacouras Center on Jan. 29 -- and then the schools will go back to being in separate conferences. Rutgers is set to join the Big Ten next season. Temple and Rutgers' basketball programs were previously members of the Atlantic 10 from 1982-95, before Rutgers left for the Big East.

Next up
Temple will travel to Orlando, Fla. to face UCF at 4 p.m. Saturday. It'll be the Owls' first game on the Knights' funky "blacktop" floor (see The700Level).