Three days after Temple needed an extra period to defeat Massachusetts, the Owls secured another overtime win by beating Rhode Island, 92-89, at the Liacouras Center. With the win, the Owls (13-10, 6-3 Atlantic Ten Conference) improved to 4-0 in overtime games this season and moved into third place in the A-10 standings behind first-place Xavier and Saint Joseph’s.
The Owls trailed for the entire contest until junior guard Dionte Christmas sank two free throws to tie the game at 74 with one minute, 57 seconds left in the game. Christmas and Rhode Island senior Will Daniels then exchanged baskets and Temple junior guard Semaj Inge missed a last-second three-point attempt to send the game into overtime.
Temple built a seven-point lead midway through the extra period but the Rams (20-5, 6-4) rallied back and still had an opportunity to tie the game with six seconds remaining. However, junior Jimmy Barron’s last-gasp three-point attempt drew nothing but air and the Owls prevailed.
“[It] was a very tough game for us,” said senior guard Mark Tyndale, who finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists. “[In] the first half we played very bad. In the second half we came out with a spark and then we fell apart again and they got a big lead on us.
“We never gave up, we never quit and that just shows our team effort. We’ve got a lot of will on this team,” Tyndale added.
Christmas, the other half of the Owls’ “one-two punch” and the A-10’s second-leading scorer, notched a team-high 27 points, including a 9-of-10 performance from the free throw line. Christmas and Tyndale both played all 45 minutes of the contest.
Inge, who played the entire second half and overtime periods, tied his career-high of 17 points and gave the Owls a boost off the bench despite missing the shot that could’ve won the game for Temple at the end of regulation.
“The whole time Mark was in the air looking at Dionte so I just tried to find the open spot. Mark did a good job of dropping it off to me and I just couldn’t hit the shot,” Inge said. “I didn’t think it was going to go to me at first. I knew they were going to key on Dionte and Mark but I was just going to be ready for a shot if it came my way.”
It was surprising that the Owls even had a chance to win the game down the stretch after falling behind by as much as 17 points at the start of the second half.
The Rams rolled to a 44-32 advantage at halftime, after Temple shot 4-of-16 from three-point range in the first half. But the Owls slowly chipped away at the lead, using a 10-3 run to make it a five-point game with 17:53 left in the second stanza. Rhode Island held serve and pushed the lead back to double digits before the Owls finally made it a one possession game when Christmas hit a three-pointer that cut it to 69-68 with less than five minutes remaining.
A series of turnovers and offensive fouls by Daniels, who led the Rams with 26 points, contributed to Rhode Island’s late-game collapse. Rams coach Jim Baron said he was not pleased with some of the calls Daniels didn’t receive on the offensive end.
“I wish that Daniels would’ve got a little bit more respect,” Baron said. “I was just a little bit disappointed and it hasn’t been the first time. I mean he got pushed and he got knocked around and I thought he could’ve gotten a little bit more respect.”
After knocking off Massachusetts and Rhode Island in back-to-back overtime games, the Owls may be gaining a little respect of their own. Temple also defeated Marist and Saint Louis in overtime games earlier in the season.
“I hope it says good things about our group,” coach Fran Dunphy said about the win. “I hope it says we never quit, we keep plugging away and that there is a ‘never-say-die’ attitude in the group but we had stretches of the game where we were terrible. Obviously, if we played this game on the road, I don’t know that we can win this game the way that we played.”
The Owls will hit the road to take on Dayton (16-7, 4-6) at the UD Arena Saturday at 4 p.m.
Freshman forward Lavoy Allen tied his career-high in blocks with four against the Rams … Inge logged 30 minutes for the Owls off the bench. This was the most amount of playing time that the junior guard has seen since the second game of the season, when he played 35 minutes against Providence … This is the most overtime games that Temple has played in since the 1996-1997 season. The Owls went 2-3 in overtime games that season … Both over-the-backboard shot clocks stopped operating with about nine minutes left in the first half. Replacement shot clocks were placed on opposite corners of the court until late in the game when the over-the-backboard clocks became functional again.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.