It’s hard to say if this is how David Hawkins would have imagined it.
On the night he scored his 2000th career point, set a new career high with 41, and single-handedly carried Temple through the second overtime of a game that his Owls should have finished in regulation, the exasperated senior guard was all smiles.
The Owls escaped the Liacouras Center with a thrilling 98-92 win against Massachusetts.
Addressing reporters with ice packs wrapped around his aching knees, Hawkins was buzzing. Teammate Wilbur Allen had joked with Hawkins before the game if he scored 40 points, the little-used reserved guard might get into the game. And Hawkins did, reaching the scoring plateau that only two other Owls have accomplished throughout their careers: Mark Macon and Lynn Greer
“I didn’t really think it would happen tonight,” Hawkins said. “I really wanted to do it on Senior Night.”
It seemed everyone was aware of his chance at reaching the milestone. With the game not yet decided, the Minutemen [10-17, 4-11] continued to foul Hawkins as the seconds waned. When he missed a free throw that would have given him 2000, sophomore guard Mardy Collins asked Hawkins, “You scared to get to 2000?”
Collins may have been even more thrilled with the victory. He had a chance to seal the game in the first overtime, but misfired on two crucial free throws with 1.4 seconds left, forcing a second overtime period. Collins finished with a career-high 30 points and played all 50 minutes.
Hawkins also did not miss a minute of action and seemed to get stronger as the game wore on. In the second overtime, he stole an inbound pass and dropped in a lay up, putting the Owls [15-11, 9-6] up four.
A UMass three cut the lead to one when Hawkins buried back-to-back threes. He drove in for a lay up on the next possession, was fouled and completed a three-point play, making it 92-84 with less than a minute to go and the crowd at a fevered pitch. In all, Hawkins scored the Owls’ final 17 points in a span of 2 minutes and 53 seconds.
“We’re on a mission now,” he said. “This was our next obstacle and we had to overcome. I figured it was time to stop going back and forth and I just capitalized on the opportunities.”
Hawkins is just the fourth Owl to reach the 40-point mark in a game.
“He’s [Hawkins] perhaps one of the great players we’ve had here. One of the toughest,” coach John Chaney said. “He’s such a great player. [UMass] played him in a box-and-one from beginning to end.”
With the win, Temple also vindicated itself against the stingy Minutemen. Earlier this season in Amherst, the Owls miraculously overcame a 23-point deficit in the final 14 minutes of play and held a three-point lead with less than minute to go. They ended up dropping the game in heartbreaking fashion, losing by a point.
They almost didn’t survive this one, either.
Enigmatic sophomore center Keith Butler had career highs, logging 41 minutes while snatching 17 rebounds and 11 points. Temple is 8-0 when Butler scores in double figures.
“I didn’t have a choice,” said Chaney on his center’s extensive playing time. “[UMass] is one of the better rebounding teams in the conference. I had no choice but to leave him on the floor.”
All season, Chaney has been using Hawkins to close out games. And as usual, the captain came through.
“I’m not going to be here next year, but it’s important for these younger guys to win games like this,” Hawkins said.
Now the senior guard prepares to play in what will be his final home game against Xavier this Saturday afternoon. Hawkins admitted this Saturday will be special.
“Before the game it’s going to be very emotional,” he said.
Jason Haslam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.