Game #9-519: Massachusetts Minutemen vs. Temple OwlsMarch 15, 2013 9:00 pm
In the A-10 tournament's fourth quarterfinal, the Temple Owls opened up against UMass. Coach Fran Dunphy's team had a fairly good conference season, finishing in a three-way tie for third place, and entering the tournament as the 3 seed due to their win over league champion Saint Louis. During their conference season, the Owls had a very interesting stretch of play in which they played five straight games decided by a single point. They went 3-2 in these contests. Without much analysis, we can see that Temple was just a couple of plays away from being the regular season league champion, and also a few plays away from being deep down into the pack in the league standings. More than any other team, Temple can illustrate the competitiveness of this conference.
After this year, Temple will move on to whatever name the old Big East Conference will use to rebrand itself. In doing so, they will leave behind decades of high quality play in the A-10, dating back to John Chaney's early seasons at Temple in the 1980s in which he built the league's original dominant team, and challenged the rest of his rivals to step up their level of play to compete with them. Other teams were able to outshine Temple during particular eras, most notably UMass (in the early to mid '90s ) and Xavier in recent years, but the Owls were the most consistently successful team throughout the history of the conference, and their departure will hurt the quality of the league going forward. When conference Commissioner Bernadette McGlade presented the Player of the Year Award to Temple star Khalif Wyatt during a pre-game ceremony, there was some sadness in the Barclays Center with the recognition that this was really the end of an era for both Temple and the A-10.
Temple started out quickly against its old foe, jumping out to an early 8-3 lead. UMass would later score on four straight possessions, grabbing the lead at 16-15 just over seven minutes into the game. In the early moments of the game, the Minutemen were more energetic and attacked the boards aggressively. By the third media timeout, UMass led 25-24, but had outrebounded Temple by an 18-5 margin, with eight offensive rebounds in just over twelve minutes. In what would be their last matchup as Atlantic-10 rivals, UMass was holding a clear edge over Temple in toughness and aggressiveness. Coach Chaney would not be pleased!
Temple would improve its play over the rest of the half, receiving a big spark from senior guard T.J. DiLeo, who usually earns his minutes as a defensive specialist and a steady point guard. DiLeo knocked down two three-pointers near the end of the first half, supporting the more-expected scoring contributions from Wyatt and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson. The Owls would take a five-point advantage into the final minute of the first half, when Chaz Williams stepped to the line for UMass.
Williams would convert both free throws, and his backcourt mate Trey Davis scored off of a Freddie Riley steal to close the half with Temple leading UMass 38-37.
The Minutemen took aim from three-point range to open the second half, with three superhoops within the first two and half minutes (two of those from Williams) to jump to a 46-41 lead. A three-point play from Hollis-Jefferson with just over twelve minutes to go gave Temple the lead once more. With Temple's defense creating some problems for UMass, holding the Minutemen without a field goal for nearly seven minutes, the Owls had a chance to pull away, but they couldn't take advantage. Wyatt missed shots on four straight possessions, and Temple could never stretch the lead to more than five points.
With his offense struggling, but with his team still within striking distance, Chaz Williams took over the game. He attacked the Temple defense, getting to the free throw line on two separate possessions and converted all four free throw attempts. With the Owl defense then looking to take away his driving lanes, Williams then hit a perimeter jump shot. On the next possession, he again drove to the basket for a layup. Finally, he found Cady Lalanne on a backcut for an easy layup. In six possessions over a span of less than three minutes, Williams had eight points and a key assist, and UMass had gone from a three-point deficit to a three-point lead. By the time that Wyatt went to the free throw line at the conclusion of that 10-4 run, Williams was clearly having fun, and even took time to share a laugh with the referee.
Temple would threaten in the remaining few minutes of the game, but would never again take the lead. A Riley three-pointer gave UMass a 71-66 edge with a minute and a half to go. After a Wyatt superhoop trimmed Temple's deficit back down to two with just under a minute to play, UMass worked the clock and then found Terrell Vinson in the corner. His three-pointer gave UMass a 76-71 lead, and the game was basically over. A Lalanne dunk in the final seconds sealed the deal, thereby concluding a bad day in Brooklyn for the Big Five and essentially ending Temple's involvement in the Atlantic-10 Conference.
MASSACHUSETTS 79, TEMPLE 74
MASSACHUSETTS 21-10 (9-7) -- C. Williams 8-13 10-10 28; F. Riley 5-11 2-3 15; S. Carter 2-5 3-4 7; T. Vinson 5-8 4-5 15; C. Lalanne 2-6 3-4 7; M. Esho 2-5 1-1 5; R. Putney 0-1 0-0 0; T. Davis 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 25-51 23-27 79.
TEMPLE 23-9 (11-5) -- R. Hollis-Jefferson 7-10 3-3 17; K. Wyatt 4-19 9-10 19; S. Randall 5-11 0-0 12; W. Cummings 2-6 2-2 7; J. O'Brien 3-8 0-0 7; T. DiLeo 3-3 0-0 8; A. Lee 1-4 0-0 2; D. Pepper 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-62 14-15 74.
Three-point goals: MASS 6-16 (R. Putney 0-1; F. Riley 3-7; T. Vinson 1-2; C. Williams 2-5; T. Davis 0-1), TU 8-27 (J. O'Brien 1-4; T. DiLeo 2-2; S. Randall 2-7; K. Wyatt 2-11; W. Cummings 1-3); Rebounds: MASS 36 (C. Lalanne 8), TU 22 (R. Jefferson 9); Assists: MASS 11 (C. Williams 5), TU 13 (R. Jefferson 7); Total Fouls -- MASS 16, TU 20; Fouled Out: MASS-None; TU-None.
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