TAMPA (AP) — Quenton DeCosey hit a one-handed floater as time expired, lifting Temple to a 66-65 victory against South Florida on Saturday.
Dalton Pepper scored 15 of his game-high 20 points and Will Cummings had all of his 14 in the second half for Temple (9-21, 4-14 American Athletic Conference). DeCosey finished with 18.
Corey Allen Jr. led South Florida (12-19, 3-15) with 18 points. Martino Brock scored 16 and fellow senior Victor Rudd had 13 in their final home game. Rudd hit only 5 of 19 shots to fall one point shy of moving into the top 10 in career scoring at the school.
South Florida led by 18 midway through the second half and seemed destined to avoid its eighth consecutive loss. Instead, the Bulls collapsed into last place in the league standings.
Temple trailed throughout the second half until Pepper hit a layup with 17 seconds remaining. Freshman Chris Perry restored the USF lead with 4.6 seconds to go, but Cummings took the inbounds pass and found DeCosey open at the opposite end.
“That’s been kind of the elusive part of our team right now. When we need that stop, we need the rebound, we haven’t been able to come up with it,” South Florida coach Stan Heath said. “We got the score to put us up.”
Temple coach Fran Dunphy simplified his team’s successful drive the length of the court.
“It’s just flat-out luck,” he said. “DeCosey found himself open and he drove it. . He went up and made a very athletic play, and fortunate enough for us, it went in the basket.”
USF missed eight of its first nine shots in the game, but collected seven steals and outscored Temple 12-0 off turnovers in the first half. Allen had seven points during a 12-0 run that put the Bulls up by 11. They led 33-26 at the break.
Temple did not score again until Cummings broke through five and a half minutes into the second half. The Owls were down by 18 midway through before Pepper and Cummings led the rally.
“You can’t get it back in one fell swoop,” Dunphy said. “You need to just chip away at it one possession at a time. When you’re down that much, there’s not much pressure on you. The pressure goes to the other side at that point.”
The Owls will enter the inaugural conference tournament with back-to-back victories after losing eight of nine. As the No. 8 seed, Temple will face Central Florida, and South Florida will take on Rutgers in the opening round Wednesday night in Memphis.
“A tough season is behind us. We’re in a new season now,” Heath said. “At this point in time, your players kind of decide how they really want to play.”
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