Jim Loscutoff was rarely as skilled as any player he defended in his nine NBA seasons. The undersized forward averaged just 6.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, but he provided the toughness that helped the Boston Celtics win seven championships.
Against Saint Joseph’s, a team that shoots a better percentage, allows fewer points and grabs more rebounds than Temple, the men’s basketball team needed to play with Loscutoff-like tenacity last night.
And that’s what they did – to excess.
The Owls (13-11, 9-4) lost to St. Joe’s, 63-56, in a bruising matchup between city rivals. Though the Owls led in all the toughness categories – rebounds, turnovers, points in the paint and second-chance points – they committed 22 team fouls and two players fouled out in the team’s second loss to the Hawks (15-9, 12-1) this season.
With the win, the Hawks clinched at least a tie for the Atlantic Ten Conference East Division title and a bye in the A-10 tournament in two weeks.
Coach John Chaney, who yelled at the officials all night, sent in little-used forward Nehemiah Ingram less than five minutes into the second half after he said he saw three illegal screens by the Hawks go uncalled.
After Ingram, playing the role of enforcer, fouled out in four minutes, sophomore Dion Dacons committed four fouls in 14 minutes. Junior Mardy Collins also fouled out after scoring a team-high 13 points.
“I’m sending a message,” Chaney said. “I’m going to send in a goon, like Loscutoff. I’ve got two of them [Ingram and Dacons] on my bench and I’m going to use them.”
Ingram, who has worked hard in school since losing two seasons to academic ineligibility, and Dacons, who is under consideration for an academic award from the NCAA, are hardly goons. But Chaney classified them as players who would fight back.
“I’m a mean, ornery SOB, and when I see something wrong, I’m going to right it,” Chaney said. “I’m going to do the same thing back to you.”
The rough play overshadowed a game the Owls could have won. They cut the Hawks’ lead to five points early in the second half after Chaney was called for a technical foul, but were outscored 11-0 over the next six minutes. The Owls trailed by as many as 16 points before a late flurry brought them within seven points for the final margin.
St. Joe’s forward Pat Carroll, who dropped 27 points in the previous meeting, had more help from his teammates last night. Junior guard Chet Stachitas had 19 points, guard Dwayne Lee had nine assists and one turnover, and forward Dwayne Jones had seven points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Carroll finished with 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting.
Four Owls scored in double figures as the team shot a collective 34 percent from the field. Sophomore forward Wayne Marshall scored 11 points, pulled down seven rebounds, and hit seven of 9 free throws. Center Keith Butler had his second straight game scoring in double figures, with 10 points.
The path to the NCAA Tournament looked difficult before, but now there is absolutely no room for error. Regardless of how the Owls finish the regular season, they likely must win the A-10 tournament to gain the conference’s automatic NCAA bid.
St. Joe’s has now won the A-10 East title five consecutive seasons, matching Massachusetts’ record run from 1991-96.
CAN’T BUST ‘EM
The Hawks’ Lee has risen to the occasion in both games of this heated rivalry. Lee has handed out 20 assists and committed just two turnovers in two games against Temple this year.
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.