By DAVE ZEITLIN Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Shabazz Napier had 17 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as No. 21 Connecticut denied Temple its second straight upset over a nationally ranked team with a 68-55 victory Thursday night.
Ryan Boatright added 14 points and DeAndre Daniels had 13 for the Huskies (21-5, 9-4 American Athletic Conference), who won their fourth straight despite shooting 2 for 13 from 3-point range.
Quenton DeCosey scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half for Temple (7-18, 2-11), at one point scoring all of his team’s points for more than a 13-minute stretch. He grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.
The Owls shot just 33 percent from the field.
Napier, UConn’s leading scorer, helped ice the game down the stretch, shooting 11 for 11 from the free throw line for the game. The senior guard had an acrobatic three-point play to give the Huskies a 52-38 lead with 6:47 left.
The Owls went nearly 10 minutes without a field goal before DeCosey made a runner with 5:49 left to bring Temple within 52-40.
Temple is in the middle of a brutal stretch of playing five straight Top 25 opponents _ a first for the 120-year-old program. The Owls were blown out by No. 11 Louisville last Friday before upsetting then-No. 23 SMU on Sunday. They continue the stretch with road games against No. 22 Memphis on Saturday and Louisville next Thursday.
The Owls looked poised for an upset bid early, taking an 18-12 lead midway through the first half after a three-point play from Mark Williams.
But the Huskies quickly went on an 11-0 run to take the lead for good. Boatright _ who missed UConn’s 90-66 rout of Temple last month when he attended a funeral _ led the surge, hitting a 3-pointer with Dalton Pepper draped all over him before throwing a behind-the-back pass to Daniels for a big dunk.
Later in the first half, Napier’s alley-oop pass to Amida Brimah resulted in an electrifying play to help the Huskies build an eight-point halftime lead.
Pepper broke a 6-minute scoring drought for the Owls with a 3-pointer with 16:50 remaining. A little more than one minute later Will Cummings drained a 3 to pull Temple within 40-35.
But the Owls were never able to get closer than that.
Pepper, Temple’s leading scorer, finished with 11 points on 4-for-18 shooting Anthony Lee, who missed Temple’s last game with a knee injury, and Cummings added 10 points apiece.
Temple fell into a tie for last place in the American with Central Florida. The 18 losses match the most in one season in Temple coach Fran Dunphy’s 25-year head coaching career.
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