Owls Rebound for 69-64 Win & A-10 Title

They shared this year's Big 5 crown; their shooting, rebounding, and points per game numbers are very close; and, they split the two previous regular season games. Not too surprising this Atlantic 10 Championship game was very competitive with Temple pulling out a 69-64 victory over Saint Joseph's, Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

Box Score

Temple's mascot doesn't flap a wing for the entire game as The Hawk does. Regardless, the Owls don't get an oppportunity to take a rest during a game. Wasn't so under John Cheney and isn't now with Fran Dunphy.

Temple was extremely cold at the start of the game, making just one of their first 12 field goal attempts. Saint Joseph's led throughout the first half with as many as 10 points separating the two Philadelphia squads. The Hawks had a 32-25 lead at the break.

Temple was even more energized after the break, opening with a 14-2 run to take a 37-34 lead -- the first time the Owls were on top. Saint Joseph's fought back numerous times, cutting the lead to four and then three points but not closer. The Owls made 6-of-10 free throws in the final minute to guarantee the win and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

St. Joe's tournament play this week should be good enough for an at-large bid. The beat #10/12 Xavier twice in a little over a week and the Musketeers are "a lock" for the NCAA event. Need to wait for Sunday's TV announcements around 6:30 p.m. I think 3. maybe 4, A-10 teams in NCAA with more in NIT and CBI.

Dionte Christmas led all players with 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting (57.1%), 5-8 from 3-point range (62.5%), He made his only free throw, pulled down four rebounds and had an assist and a steal.

Ryan Brooks scored 15 points and the diminutive, 5-8 senior point guard Chris Clark added 10 in 35 minutes off the bench. Lavoy Allen had three blocks.

Mark Tyndale had eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block and zero turnovers without leaving the court.

On defense, Tynadale was a force, many times shadowing Saint Joseph's top scorer, Pat Calathes, on defense. Calathes, an Atlantic 10 All-Conference first team selection who averages 17.9 ppg, tallied 14 points on 5-13 shooting, 2-10 beyond the arc. (Tyndale was a second team pick.)

Ahmad Nivins led the Hawks with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Tasheed Carr amd Darrin Govens added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Calathes, Carr and Govens each had three assists.

SJU's early lead was cut to 6-5 by Allan's putback with 16:46 on the first half clock. The Hawks answered with nine straight points for a 15-5 edge.

Temple, which had been 1-12 from the floor at this point, finally hit the scoreboard on a Sergio Olmos free throw and Christmas's layup following Tyndale's steal for the Owls' first basket in over five minutes.

Their lead cut to 15-11, SJU put together a 10-4 run and restored the 10-point lead, 25-15, with 6:16 to go.

The Owls got the margin to 27-21 on Christmas's three-pointer. Clark's trey closed the first period scoring, the Hawks leading 32-25.

Temple had a lot more energy after the break. In less than four minutes of the second half, they tied the game at 34-34 on a pair of Olmos free throws. Then Clark gave TU their first lead, 37-34, a half-minute later.

Carr stopped the Owls' 14-2 run with a traditional three-point play to make the score, 41-37. The Hawks had been scoreless for 5 1/2 minutes.

Christmas's trey put Temple ahead by eight, 48-39, with 11:03 to play. Brooks' three-pointer got the Owls back to 56-48, 7:22 on the clock.

Carr's layup got Saint Joseph's within three, 58-55, at 4:26, only to see a Christmas bunnie on a "fans-stand-up" pass from Tynsdale that put the lead back to eight.

The Hawks did got within four at 63-59. Temple, after missing four of their first six free throws in the final minute, canned four straight for the 2008 A-10 championship crown.

Each team fouled a three-point shooter, Tyndale making three shots from the charity stripe and Chistmas converted for an untraditional four-point play.

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