Senior guard Chris Clark is familiar with winning decisive games at La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena.
Four years ago, he registered 25 points in the 84-61 Saint Joe’s Prep victory over Cardinal Dougherty for the Catholic League title.
In Clark’s final regular season game of his college career, the Owls defeated La Salle, 85-66 in Explorers territory in front of a sellout crowd for their fourth straight win.
Clark hit six of eight three pointers and contributed a career-high, 22 points to the Owls’ victory. The team shot nearly 50 percent in both field goals and three-pointers.
With the win, the Owls clinched the second seed in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament and have dibs on one of the four first-round byes.
“We were picked to finish ninth and we finished second. That’s a pretty good accomplishment right there,” said senior guard Mark Tyndale.
Last season, the Owls held the 11th seed in the tournament and we’re knocked off in the first round by Saint Joseph’s.
Clark said he is expecting a better outcome this year for the Owls.
“This is nice, especially in Philadelphia, ending my career like this and having a good game. Most importantly getting the win though, now were second place in the conference going into the Atlantic 10 tournament. That’s the most important thing,” Clark said. “We needed this win.”
Certainly, the Owls needed to win the game in order to secure the a high tournament seed, but the win gave the team another gift—a share of the Philadelphia Big 5 Title. Temple and Villanova are tied for the city-series crown. Had the Explorers won, they would have shared the title. The Owls have now won 25 Big 5 titles, the most of any Big 5 school.
This is coach Fran Dunphy’s fourth title. The Owls last held the title when they shared in with the Wildcats at the end of the 2004-2005 season.
“It’s been a great regular season, in all honesty and we’re very pleased to be in the position we’re in,” Dunphy said. “I think at this point, in the end of the year where we’ve had a real good late season in a very, very difficult league to play well in and we’re very pleased to be where we are.”
La Salle or Duquesne on Deck for Owls
Postseason conference play begins Wednesday in Atlantic City, NJ. Today was the last day of regular season play in the A-10.
Xavier (25-5, 13-2 A-10) sits atop the conference. With a loss for the Hawks and the Explorers today, a few teams are tied up in the middle of the standings. On Thursday, the Owls will face the winner of Wednesday’s La Salle-Duquesne.
The Owls may eventually face the first seeded Musketeers, who on Monday, were ranked eighth in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Temple knocked off the then-No. 20 Xavier team, 78-59 at the Liacouras Center in January.
The Musketeers second conference loss came Thursday against the Hawks. St. Joe’s upset them, 71-66.
Against the Hawks, the Owls usually play down to the last seconds. Temple split its two games with St. Joe’s this season, losing 68-67 in January, but winning 57-56 last week.
The Owls have beat both of their biggest A-10 foes earlier this season and will look to take first place in the A-10 Tournament this week.
Melissa DiPento can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.