WRITTEN BY TOM HANSLIN
A record-setting blizzard failed in cooling off the Temple Owls at the Liacouras Center on Sunday afternoon, as 14 three-pointers were made in a shocking 89-80 upset of No. 8 Southern Methodist, handing the Mustangs their first loss of the season.
Senior guard Devin Coleman put on a perfect shooting display, making all eight of his shots from the field, including seven three-pointers for a career-high total of 23 points.
“I just went through my regular routine,” said Coleman. “We prepare to the best of our abilities. I think guys get up for these types of games.”
Temple was without the services of forward Jaylen Bond, who was sidelined with a lower back injury. In Bond’s absence, sophomore Obi Enechionyia returned to the starting lineup, while Owls’ head coach Fran Dunphy mixed and matched all ten active players into the game.
The Owls began the first half cold on the offensive end, missing their first five shots from three-point range. Despite the early inconsistency, Temple found a groove in the closing minutes, drilling four three-pointers to help extend their halftime lead to 44-34. The Owls’ supporting cast kept the lead alive, as they outscored Southern Methodist in bench points, 22-9.
Temple’s momentum swing was carried into the second half, as the Owls did not concede the lead in the final twenty minutes. With five minutes remaining in regulation, Coleman hit his seventh three-pointer to extend the score to 78-59, making 19 points the largest scoring margin on the afternoon.
Southern Methodist refused to let up in the final minutes, and pushed for an abrupt 10-0 run, but with the Mustangs forced to foul, the Owls earned 17 points from the charity stripe, placing the finishing touches on a stunning upset that witnessed a storming of the court.
Temple finished shooting 46 percent from the floor, while outscoring Southern Methodist 42-22 in bench points and 22-12 in points off of turnovers.
“They played great,” said Mustangs’ head coach Larry Brown. “They made shots. Thank god I don’t have to play Fran again. He’s not afraid to play the bench.”
It was Temple’s third win against a nationally ranked opponent this season, the first time that the Owls have accomplished this feat since the 1999-00 season.
“The fact that they’ve played great teams, and hopefully our conference gets a little respect, people will recognize the quality team that Fran has,” said Brown.
Coleman led all scorers with 23 points, while Owls’ guard Quenton DeCosey tallied 19 points and five rebounds. Forward Daniel Dingle also contributed 14 points off the bench, including three rebounds and three assists.
“We don’t have an ego problem,” said Coleman. “Guys understand that it’s not about who starts the game, it’s about what you do when you go out there. Come in, do your job, and contribute to a winning cause.”
Mustangs’ guard Sterling Brown led Southern Methodist scorers with 19 points, and fell one rebound shy of a double-double. Forward Jordan Tolbert also brought home 15 points, including eight rebounds and one block. Philadelphia native Markus Kennedy, who posted 21 points against Temple at the Liacouras Center last January, totaled only six points and four rebounds in his final homecoming game.
With the loss, Southern Methodist’s undefeated campaign came to a close, as the Mustangs currently sit at a record of 18-1. Regardless of the team’s final season standing, Southern Methodist will remain ineligible for postseason play, due to academic sanctions enforced by the NCAA last Fall.
“Everybody’s going to give us their best effort,” said Brown. “It’s a learning experience. I want our kids to understand that we got to start again. Nothing’s going to change our motivation to get better.”
The Owls’ victory was their fifth in the last six games, improving their record to 11-7 overall and 5-2 in American Athletic Conference play. For a team that missed the NCAA Tournament last Spring, a third quality win against a ranked opponent has been added to this season’s resume.
“It does a lot for our resume,” said DeCosey. “It shows people that we can compete with anybody.”
The Owls will return to action Wednesday night to face the East Carolina Pirates in Greenville, North Carolina.