With eight minutes remaining the Huskies were cruising at Temple, up by 12. UConn had just four turnovers, the Daniel Hamilton triple-double watch was on and the top seed in the American Athletic Conference was in sight.
But it quickly soured from there. The Huskies didn't even bother fouling in the closing seconds at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia as Temple swept the season series with a 63-58 win in front of 8,316 on Thursday night.
In a game that put first place in the conference (tournament) on the line, the Huskies turned the ball over on each of their final three possessions, choking away a double-digit lead and an opportunity to sit in the AAC driver's seat.
UConn opened the second half with a heavy dose of senior Shonn Miller (15 points; 4 rebounds; 2 steals), who scored 11 points during a 23-9 run that gave the Huskies a 52-40 lead with 7:48 remaining.
After that, it was all Temple.
The Owls' Daniel Dingle and Devin Coleman combined to knock down four straight three-pointers, Dingle's final connection cutting the UConn advantage to 56-54 with 3:46 left. Quenton DeCosey, who scored 14 points in the first half, made his first bucket of the second half with 1:51 to go, tying the game at 56-56. A pair of Miller free throws gave the Huskies the lead again briefly- before DeCosey threw in a circus layup and was awarded the foul on Rodney Purvis. DeCosey (23 points; 4 rebounds; 3 assists) was true at the charity stripe, giving Temple its first lead since the 18:32 mark of the second half, 59-58.
The Huskies' offense (17-7, 7-4) sputtered down the stretch, making just two field goals in the final 8:41. Then in the final minute down by one, the wheels came off.
Hamilton turns it over late in the shot clock. Two free throws for DeCosey, 61-58.
Purvis double dribbles at half court. Two more free throws for DeCosey, 63-58.
Adams turns it over attempting a behind-the-back pass. Temple ball with 11 seconds to go, Huskies decide not to foul. Ball game.
UConn turned it over five times in the final 4:46 in addition to missing a handful of layups, including a wide-open dunk by Amidah Brimah that would've put the Huskies up 10 with less than five minutes to go. Brimah's return to UConn has been welcome, but the Owls still had a 17-10 edge in second-chance points while keeping pace with UConn in the paint (22-24).
Freshman point guard Jalen Adams spent most of the second half sitting next to assistant coach Ricky Moore, not checking in until the 2:40 mark, leaving many scratching their heads.
The Owls (15-8, 9-3) closed out the first half on a 9-2 run, capped by a DeCosey pull-up jumper at the buzzer, giving Temple a 31-29 lead at the break. DeCosey's last-second bucket took away from a solid first-half performance from Purvis who scored 10-of-his-12 points in the opening stanza.
UConn, now a game and a half behind Temple for the top spot in the AAC, returns to action on Saturday when it hosts Tulsa at Gampel Pavilion at 8 p.m