The Owls’ captains did just that today against Massachusetts.
Senior Mark Tyndale had 20 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, while senior Chris Clark nailed a huge three-pointer with 1:12 left in the second half to force overtime in the Owls’ 80-70 victory over the Minutemen.
“I saw Chris wide open and I knew he was going to hit one shot today,” Tyndale said. “That was probably the biggest shot of the game.”
After Clark’s triple, the Owls (12-10, 5-3 Atlantic Ten Conference) outscored the Minutemen (15-8, 4-5), 16-6, in the overtime.
Tyndale guarded UMass’ star forward Gary Forbes in overtime. Tyndale did yeoman’s work against Forbes and hounded him into 0-for-4 shooting in the extra period, as well as forcing the Minuteman guard into an offensive foul that resulted in a turnover.
Forbes, who entered the game as the conference’s leading scorer, finished with only 12 points, about eight points under his average of 20.6 points per contest.
Tyndale said the feat wasn’t an easy one.
“Gary Forbes is tough,” Tyndale said. “He’s as strong as an ox. He wore me out today. I’m very tired sticking that guy.”
Coach Fran Dunphy praised Tyndale’s defensive efforts.
“I think he took it to heart,” Dunphy said. “Forbes is a formidable guy and he did a terrific job when he was on him.”
For all of the physicality involved in that match-up, Forbes did not attempt a single free throw. He came into the game averaging 7.45 free throw attempts per game.
“It’s hard when their guy [Tyndale] goes 10-for-10 from the line and Gary doesn’t get a single attempt,” UMass coach Travis Ford said. “He’s a power player and he didn’t get a single attempt.”
As far as single attempts go, that’s what freshman Lavoy Allen missed from the field en route to a career-high 20 points. Allen shot 8-of-9 from the field and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed 8 boards.
Allen and fan favorite Sergio Olmos combined for 30 points and 10 rebounds against UMass.
The two big men accounted for eight of the Owls’ 14 points to open the game, and 10 of the Owls’ 17 points to start the second half.
Allen attributed his game to a new found philosophy.
“I’m becoming more aggressive on the offensive end,” Allen said. “I’m taking more shots like everyone is telling me and my jump shot has been on the last couple of games.”
Junior Dionte Christmas’ shot has not been on the last couple of games. Christmas shot 5-for-16 from the field today, including 2-for-10 from deep.
In his last two games, the high-scoring guard has shot 9-for-31 from the field, including 3-for-18 from distance.
He still managed 16 points, but knowing he wasn’t hot from three-ball land, he corralled a team-high nine rebounds and thieved two passes, to tie with Olmos for a team high in that category.
He also nailed two free throws to provide the Owls with a 10-point lead with 28 seconds left.
The Owls did not miss many opportunities to convert from the free throw line, shooting a blistering 91.7 percent for the game, missing only two of their 24 attempts.
The last two attempts of the game were taken, and drained, by Clark.
“Anytime that kid can do good things I’m elated because he’s a great guy,” Dunphy said.
“He’s certainly a guy we’ll miss next year. I don’t even want to think about it.”
Well, Clark and the Owls will be thinking about Rhode Island soon, as the Owls take on the Rams on Wednesday.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org