PHILADELPHIA – The Temple Owls are currently on a three game winning streak, and thanks to their last two wins, head coach Fran Dunphy was able to tie and surpass the record for most wins by a Big 5 coach in the history of its existence.
The former record was held by Dunphy’s predecessor at Temple, the legendary John Chaney, who tallied a total of 516 wins, a mark that Dunphy tied in last Thursday’s win over Tulsa at the Liacouras Center.
The victory by no means was an easy one, and was a well deserved 516th win that was decided in overtime.
To put things into perspective of just how tough of a task Temple had against Tulsa to come out with the win, their senior leading scorer, Quenton DeCosey, was scoreless for the entire first half. But even when DeCosey was able to get back on track in the second half, scoring a team high 17 points in the final 20 minutes of regulation, the Owls trailed by as many as 14 during that stretch and trailed by five points with under 30 seconds to play in regulation.
A few clutch drives to the basket by DeCosey pulled Temple within three points twice in the final 20 seconds of the second half, and a last second assist to fellow teammate Devin Coleman for a game tying three pointer sent the game into overtime with the scored even at 70 at the end of regulation.
In overtime, the Owls were able to hold off Tulsa, completing their comeback victory with a final score of 83-79.
When all was said and done, it was a well earned victory in the eyes of head coach Fran Dunphy.
Though Temple had no double-digit scorers at the end of the first half, the Owls ended the overtime win with four players in double-figure scoring, led by the 21 point comeback performance by DeCosey and a 17 point contribution by Obi Enechionyia..
Team captain, Jaylen Bond, was also able to contribute 13 points while Devin Coleman tallied 10 for the Owls including his game-tying three pointer.
With the hard fought victory, the Owls carried the positive momentum into Saturday’s game at CFE Arena in Tampa, Florida against the UCF Knights, where they won another closely contested match-up, 62-60.
Though Quenton DeCosey and Obi Enechionyia were able to get their usual 15 and 14 point numbers, an unlikely “x-factor” was able to seal the deal for the Owls.
Junior, Mark Williams, was able to score a team high 16 points in 16 minutes on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 from three.
With the win, Fran Dunphy became the Big 5’s all-time winningest coach, surpassing John Chaney’s 516 win mark.
After the game, Dunphy expressed the respect he has for Philadelphia college basketball, saying he was honored to have the title while downplaying his remarkable achievement.
“I wish every major metropolitan area had what we have with the Big 5,” Dunphy said after his 517th win. “There’s been an unbelievable amount of great coaches in Philadelphia, and I’ve just been around a little longer than most of those guys.”
With three straight wins, Temple is focused on the next task at hand.
The Owls have yet to go on a winning streak for more than three games, and their next opponent is another respectable team.
Next up, the Owls host the Uconn Huskies at the Liacouras Center in their annual “white-out” game.
Temple was able to top the then #23/24 ranked Huskies in Connecticut on a last second shot by Josh Brown, but since that game, Uconn has found some momentum with a vital player returning to the active roster for the Huskies.
Uconn is currently on a three game winning streak as well, and premier shot blocker, Amida Brimah, has returned to the lineup after missing out on almost the entire season — including the Temple game — due to several lingering injuries.
This is one of the most important games of the season for Temple, as a win will put them in first place of the American Athletic Conference while a loss will have Uconn leapfrog into second place in the AAC with Temple sliding down to third.
The Temple-Uconn contest will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 11th and will be available to a national audience, airing on ESPN2.