Sports

Dethroning the A-10 kings

CINCINNATI – John Chaney had shed his sweater vest at the onset of the second half, but the coach hadn’t done so in a fit of frustration.He was overjoyed.The men’s basketball team had a growing lead on No. 6 George Washington midway through a quarterfinal game at the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament.Then things went south… Read more »

CINCINNATI – John Chaney had shed his sweater vest at the onset of the second half, but the coach hadn’t done so in a fit of frustration.He was overjoyed.The men’s basketball team had a growing lead on No. 6 George Washington midway through a quarterfinal game at the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament.Then things went south for Chaney and the Owls, right? Not this time.The Owls held off a late GW surge to best the top-seeded Colonials, 68-53, on Thursday afternoon. Temple followed a hot-shooting first half with a turnover- and personal-foul-laden second half that nearly cost it the game.It made no difference, as Temple (17-13) earned its biggest win over a ranked opponent since 2000, when the Owls topped No. 1 Cincinnati.The win puts the Owls in the semifinals against Saint Joseph’s, the tournament’s fifth seed, which defeated Saint Louis Thursday afternoon, 56-37.The Colonials will undoubtedly advance to the NCAA Tournament, despite missing out on a chance to clinch back-to-back A-10 titles.The Colonials had what it takes to repeat as champs this season, Chaney said, but the coach was most impressed with his point guard, Mardy Collins.“They have so many parts,” Chaney said of GW. “[But] the constant on our ball club is Mardy Collins. … He kept the music playing.”Antywane Robinson had 19 points, making him the Owls’ leading scorer for a second-straight game. Mark Tyndale and Wayne Marshall both finished with 15 points.The Owls came into this game having lost four straight to the Colonials (26-2), a streak that dated back to 2003. Moreover, the Owls had played 37 games without winning two straight on a road or neutral floor.The numbers were in GW’s favor, but the Owls didn’t seem to care.Late in the first half, Tyndale and Dustin Salisbery each put in one of their two free throw attempts and the Owls had their first lead of the game, at 25-23. The Colonials had an opportunity to regain the lead on Omar Williams’ trip to the charity stripe, but the Philadelphia native missed both shots.The score stayed that way until Robinson drilled two field goals late in the first half. GW, which boasted the nation’s best win percentage before the game, held for the half’s last possession. Dion Dacons, with the help of Tyndale, ended the Colonials’ possession with a mid-court steal, which he turned into an assist when he dished to Collins for a dunk at the buzzer.The Owls closed out the half on a 13-0 run, holding the Colonials without a point for the half’s final eight minutes.The Colonials walked into the locker room appearing stunned with their 31-23 deficit at halftime. The Owls looked quite the opposite, as they are now 13-2 this season when entering halftime with a lead.Six unanswered points to begin the second got the Owls to a 13-point, 36-23 advantage. They established their double-digit lead with all-America candidate Collins tallying as many points (two) as personal fouls through 22 minutes.Marshall wasn’t of much help, either. The junior center, who collected three personal fouls in 12 first-half minutes, was shelved for much of the second half.Marshall later contributed by hitting successive, 15-foot jumpers and a dunk to bump the Owls’ lead to 57-46. He conceded after the game that the Owls have a tendency to play at the level of their opposition.“We play up to the level of competition and we play down to the level of competition,” said Marshall, who finished with 15 points. “We knew we could come out, play hard and try to win this game.”WHERE TO FROM HERE?With Selection Sunday looming, the prevailing thought is that the Owls have to win the A-10 tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.If that doesn’t happen, they are most likely headed to the National Invitational Tournament, where they’ve played their postseason ball since 2002.The NIT is not the lock it once was.The NIT selection committee uses on-court merit during the season as its primary tool to complete its field. Not too long ago, program and coaching prestige were factors that weighed on the NIT’s committee.PHOTOSFor additional photos from Thursday’s win over George Washington, check out Temple News staff photographer Steve Gengler’s photo gallery.Christopher A. Vito can be reached at christopher.vito@temple.edu.

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