Temple brought its bruising East Coast basketball to the Valley, and for 37 minutes the Owls had Arizona State on the ropes.
But with a lineup that included Kevin Kruger and Allen Morill, the young Sun Devils rallied from a ninepoint deficit to defeat the Owls, 70-66, Tuesday night at America West Arena.
Junior Steve Moore hit a 19-footer with 30 seconds left to give ASU its first lead and Ike Diogu punctuated the comeback with a thunderous dunk with four seconds left to give the crowd something to talk about on the way home from the late-starting game.
"Our team has a lot to be proud of. We were down for most of the game and fought back to stay in the game," ASU coach Rob Evans said.
The Owls’ style and their bruising 1-3-1 matchup zone made this game a snoozer up until the end.
The referees were active with their whistles, with 43 fouls called. Temple Hall of Fame coach John Chaney had to go into his bench, after three fouled out and starter Antywane Robinson out of action after 70 seconds with an ankle injury.
But all the stoppage in play gave coach Rob Evans time to adjust his lineup for a final push that was led by — who else? — Diogu.
Diogu scored 11 of his gameleading 23 points in the final 8:47.
ASU (4-1) began its comeback with 4 1 /2 minutes remaining, trailing 62-55.
Moore, who struggled against Temple’s defense, drained a 3-pointer and was fouled with 3:52 left. He converted the foul shot and activated the crowd to make AWA sound like Wells Fargo Arena.
After a five-second call while Temple’s David Hawkins (15 points) was driving to the lane, the Devils set up a play for Diogu, who scored and was fouled.
In converting the conventional three-point play, Diogu tied the game at 62-62 with 3:08 remaining. It was the first time the game had been tied since it was 6-6.
The game was tied one last time at 66 when Diogu scored inside with 1:25 left.
Kruger then made a huge play when, after Hawkins grabbed a missed shot, he stole the ball.
The Devils then set up the winning play with Tron Smith driving to the lane and dishing to a wide-open Moore at the left side.
"Steve Moore is a tough kid," Evans said. "He made some turnovers and made some mistakes early in the ball game. It was bothering him a little and I pulled him aside during the timeout and said, ‘You’re going to do something to win this ballgame for us.’ and sure enough, he did.
Krueger played 14 minutes and finished the game ahead of junior Jason Braxton, who played 22 minutes.
Morill was assigned to Hawkins, Temple’s leading scorer, and helped limit him to 4-of-17 shooting.
Chaney was bitter about the loss and the familiar Pac-10 officiating crew.
"I don’t come on the road to be robbed," he said. "Anytime you take the ball from one of my players who is standing on the side of the pivot and calling five seconds, or 10 seconds, it’s ridiculous.
"Thirty-six foul shots in a college game. It was ridiculous. It’s (bleep)! They made a mystery out of it. I thought I was playing the Phoenix Suns."
Evans played only seven players in the first half, after which Temple led 34-29.
Keith Wooden and Kruger played in the second half as Evans limited playing time. Diogu played all 40 minutes. Moore finished with 15 points.
"This win means a lot for us," Evans said. "To get a win over a storied program like Temple and a Hall of Fame coach like John Chaney is just huge for us."
BONUS SHOTS: Temple lost starting forward Robinson at 18:50 of the first half when he landed awkwardly and sprained his left ankle. Robinson, at 6-foot-8 Temple’s second tallest player, had gotten off to a quick start with four points.