Temple clinches No. 1 seed in A10 tournament with OT win over UMass

This article was written for my Sports Writing class at Temple University.
Temple finished the year 10-1 at the Liacouras Center. (Candice Monhollan)

Temple finished the year 10-1 at the Liacouras Center. (Candice Monhollan)

PHILADELPHIA – An epic battle.

That was how Massachusetts head coach Derek Kellogg described Temple’s thrilling 90-88 overtime win Wednesday night in its last home game of the season.

“[It] reminded me of the games back in the ‘90s,” Kellogg said. “Both teams throwing shots or haymakers and nobody really quit or gave up. Two very good teams that were fighting tooth and nail to try and win the basketball game. I guess it could be called one for the ages.”

It was the second overtime win in three games for the Owls, and both were one-possession victories.

“I think I’ve lost a few [years of my life],” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. “I hope that we’re a team that finds a way. Obviously we’ve had some success in overtime. You do get a little crazed while you’re sitting there saying, ‘How are we going to figure this one out?’ These guys did a great job again tonight on that.”

It was a special night at the Liacouras Center for Temple’s four seniors – Micheal Eric, Juan Fernandez, Ramone Moore and Jake Godino, who were honored before the game.

Eric, who had 15 rebounds in the game, tied his career high with 19 points.

“It’s a great feeling,” Eric said. “I was just lucky to be in a position to get 19. I have to do stuff like this to help my team.”

Most of Eric’s points came in the second half.

“I just thought the team needed me,” he said. “I thought of that every second I was going down on offense. They need me to do something. I made sure I made my presence felt on the offensive end.”

Though it was senior night, it was a junior who stole the show. Khalif Wyatt helped turn the tide in favor of Temple in overtime, including a breakaway layup to give the Owls the lead and the win with 16 seconds left.

He finished with a game-high 26 points and was 17-for-18 at the free-throw line.

“I’m not used to being all by myself running down the court,” Wyatt said. “I just dribbled it and tried not to walk it. I just focused and finished it.”

It was a fast, up-tempo game from start to finish, and the UMass charge was led by sophomore Chaz Williams. The 5-foot-9-inch guard had a 26-point, 11-assist night for the Minutemen and was the catalyst in overcoming the 10-point deficit in the second half.

“Whatever we tried, it didn’t work,” Dunphy said on trying to stop Williams. “He was terrific.”

The Owls were able to withstand Williams and the Minutemen for their 10th regular season Atlantic 10 title. The win also clinched the No. 1 seed in the A-10 Tournament for Temple.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Wyatt said. “It was Senior Night. All our seniors were emotional. We wanted to make sure we got the win. The crowd never got out of it even though we let them down a couple of times.”

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Categories: Basketball, College Sports, Sports

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