Mark Tyndale could sleep easily Sunday night.
That wasn’t the case in January, when Saint Joseph’s erased an 11-point deficit and won the teams’ first matchup this season on a late three-pointer by Pat Calathes.
This time the teams’ roles were reversed, as Temple erased a 14-point deficit to win in dramatic fashion, 57-56, at the Palestra. Tyndale scored the game-winning basket, driving through the lane with 22.3 seconds remaining.
For Tyndale, the victory marked redemption. The senior guard had missed a critical one-and-one basket in the teams’ previous meeting just before Calathes drilled the game-winner.
“He broke my heart the last time and I couldn’t sleep for about three days,” Tyndale said. “So, I just wanted to get Pat back a little bit.”
The final 22.3 seconds were pure mayhem, as the Hawks kept missing shots, but the Owls couldn’t get a rebound. Calathes, Tasheed Carr and Rob Ferguson each frantically fired a shot before Temple sophomore Ryan Brooks finally came down with the ball as time expired.
“That might have been the longest 20 seconds of my life,” Brooks said. “…We were just waiting for that buzz to sound. But our adrenaline was going and we just knew if we got the stop, got the rebound, we were going to win the game.”
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak in the series, but more importantly gave the Owls (16-12 overall) sole possession of second place in the Atlantic Ten Conference. At 9-5, they sit one game in front of La Salle, Massachusetts, Richmond and Saint Joseph’s.
The win certainly improved the Owls’ chances of receiving one of the four first-round byes in the A-10 tournament, but coach Fran Dunphy isn’t about to look ahead. Not with two games left, anyway.
“All I’m thinking about is Wednesday,” Dunphy said, referring to the Owls’ final home game against Duquesne. “I can’t think about anything else.”
The Owls were still basking in the drama that unfolded. At last, they had been on the winning side against their rival. Entering the contest, the Hawks (17-10, 8-6) had captured 12 of the last 13 contests, including two wins in the A-10 tournament.
“Me personally, I just don’t like St. Joe’s,” said Semaj Inge, who totaled 10 points. “I just don’t like those guys.”
Tyndale led the Owls with 15 points and eight rebounds. His three assists also tied Brooks for the team lead. But Tyndale was fairly silent in the first half, scoring just two points, and so were the Owls.
The Owls stayed right with the Hawks during the game’s initial seven minutes. The Hawks took a two-point lead on four occasions and a three-point advantage once. Each time, Temple knotted the score.
But after senior Chris Clark tied the game at 13-13 with a deep trey, the Owls posted just one field goal – a three-pointer by Dionte Christmas – in the next seven minutes. The Hawks took command, 27-16.
Inge finally broke the drought with a three-pointer with six minutes left, and the Owls began chipping at the Hawks’ lead. They outscored the Hawks, 8-4, in the final six minutes of the half to close the gap to 31-27 at the break.
St. Joe’s then opened the second stanza on a 14-4 run, rebuilding a double-digit advantage, at 45-31 with 14:09 left. That proved to be the Hawks’ largest lead of the night.
The Owls cut the Hawks’ lead to 49-40 with 10:29 left. Calathes sank a jumper a few seconds later, but it marked the last time the Hawks would hit a field goal until Calathes made another with 1:35 on the clock.
In between, the Hawks missed eight shots, scoring their only three points on free throws.
Hawks coach Phil Martelli credited the Owls’ “physical nature defensively,” and St. Joe’s failure to utilize Ahmad Nivens, who scored nine of his 11 points in the first half, as the reasons for his team’s collapse.
“The numbers speak to you,” Martelli said. “Ahmad Nivens had one shot in the second half. That’s poor offense.”
Nevertheless, it created another classic moment in the storied rivalry. It’s one that finally had a happy ending for Tyndale, who had been on the losing side eight times in nine games.
Asked whether he’d prefer to have this go down as his last highlight against St. Joe’s, or face them one last time in next week’s A-10 tournament, Tyndale wouldn’t commit.
“That’s a tough question to answer,” Tyndale said with a smile. “I don’t know. If we meet St. Joe’s again, it would be a great test. That’s all.”
For now, he can rest easily, knowing he just might have dished the final punch in his career against a hated rival.
John Kopp can be reached at email@example.com.
Also read: “By the bucket”