Temple ends slump by beating Rutgers

Temple's Dalton Pepper looks to pass around Rutgers' J.J. Moore during the first half. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Temple's Dalton Pepper looks to pass around Rutgers' J.J. Moore during the first half. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 31, 2014

Earlier this week during practice, Fran Dunphy pulled Will Cummings aside.

The senior guard had been struggling. Cummings missed two games in the middle of January with concussion symptoms and had been inconsistent in his two games back.

Dunphy's message at practice: Find ways to get other players the ball.

In an 88-82 win against Rutgers at the Liacouras Center on Wednesday night, it seemed Cummings got the point.

Cummings had a career- high eight assists and scored 21 points to help Temple (6-13, 1-7 American Athletic Conference) hold off a second-half rally by Rutgers (8-13, 2-6) and earn its first home win since Dec. 4.

The win broke an eight-game losing streak and was the Owls' first in the American Athletic Conference.

"We need it very, very badly," said Dunphy, whose Owls will host No. 9 Villanova on Saturday. "I was proud of our guys."

"It keeps the guys focused knowing that we got one win," Cummings said. "We have to refocus and get back to work and get ready for Villanova."

Temple led by as many as 20 in the second half, but Rutgers shot 60 percent from three-point range to come back. J.J. Moore, a senior forward, hit a three-pointer with 2 minutes, 49 seconds remaining to give Rutgers the lead, the culmination of a 13-6 run.

But Cummings hit back-to-back layups to regain the Temple lead for good. He scored six of the Owls' final 14 points.

"We need him to be that kind of playmaker," Dunphy said about Cummings. "There's opportunities for him to score and take it to the rim, but there's also opportunities to drive and kick for some open jumpers for his teammates."

Temple took a 50-37 lead at halftime after the Owls shot 66 percent. Temple scored 20 points off 11 first-half Rutgers turnovers and outscored the Scarlet Knights in the paint, 26-8.

"These guys have kept it together pretty well," Dunphy said. "I think the frustration level has certainly been there, but it's been held to a minimum."

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