Big Five rivals don't require the presence of the ESPN College GameDay crew to get their juices boiling, but the network gave the rest of the country the chance to see the emotion that flowed at the sold-out Palestra on Saturday as La Salle finally defeated Temple, 74-68, before a crowd of 8,722.
The Explorers (11-6) had lost eight straight to the Owls (5-11), whose current losing streak reached six games, their longest since Fran Dunphy became head coach eight years ago.
"This will be an especially great memory for me," said La Salle senior guard Tyreek Duren, a Philly product who had never experienced a win over Temple.
Duren scored 20 points and had seven assists. He played all 40 minutes and had only two turnovers, but his biggest moment came with 15.6 seconds remaining, when he hit two free throws to stem a furious Temple comeback and give La Salle a 72-68 lead. The depleted Owls had closed an 11-point deficit to two.
"Make your free throws and get out of here," Duren said when asked what he was thinking at the free-throw line.
Steve Zack had 10 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for the Explorers. Quenton DeCosey scored 21 for Temple, which didn't lead in the second half of a game for the first time this season. Anthony Lee had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Owls.
Both teams are 2-1 in the City Series.
Temple's task was made more difficult when it was forced to play without junior guard Will Cummings, their floor leader and second-leading scorer. Cummings was questionable coming into the game, but he's apparently still feeling the effects of a concussion he suffered in the first half against South Florida on Jan. 9.
"He's cleared medically. It's just a matter of how he feels," Dunphy said. "It's a day-to-day thing."
Without Cummings, the Owls have a two-man bench, which was no way to go against the deep, quick Explorers.
"If it is fatigue there's not a lot we can do," Dunphy said.
La Salle survived a torrid Temple stretch in the first half, when the Owls connected on seven straight shots that resulted in a five-point lead. Dalton Pepper led the surge with three consecutive three-pointers before La Salle coach John Giannini pulled D.J. Peterson off the bench to guard Pepper. Pepper made only two baskets, neither a three-pointer, over the final 27 minutes of play.
"D.J. has played wonderful defense for us since the day he got here," Giannini said.
It was a home game for La Salle, but the Explorers agreed to play it at the Palestra rather than on campus. The two teams will play at the Palestra again next season rather than at Temple.
"It's an awesome experience, and there's nothing else like it in any other city," Giannini said of the raucous atmosphere.