John Chaney’s Owls took care of the Fresno State Bulldogs and nipped the Louisville Cardinals, now their goal is to rid the NIT of the Villanova Wildcats.
The Owls 65-62 comeback victory over Rick Pitino and Louisville (19-13) propels them into the quarterfinals of the NIT where they will face Villanova. Nova beat Louisiana Tech by three points on Tuesday at The Pavilion at Villanova.
The Owls host the Wildcats in the last Big 5 match up on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Liacouras Center.
One team will go home; the other will be dancing in the NIT Final Four at the Garden in the Big Apple.
Temple (17-14) however, might have to do it without its biggest contributor, Lynn Greer.
In the waning moments of Tuesday’s game vs. Louisville, Greer slipped on the wet Freedom Hall floor and injured his ankle. He limped off the court after the play and was replaced by Nile Murry.
In the last 27.4 seconds of the game Greer returned hobbling and knocked down two key free throws to seal the victory.
Greer was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain. Results of the medical evaluation were not available.
The play of the game, however, was the huge rebound by Brian Polk that resulted in him slipping out of bounds with the ball.
The referees awarded possession to Temple. They told both coaches that if a player slipped for any reason they would not lose possession of the ball.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino made that evident to the fans of Freedom Hall.
“It is not the referees; the floor is like a skating rink,” Pitino told the boisterous crowd of 19,046 after they were booing the officials.
“They expressed to us, anybody that slips on the floor, they are not going to take the ball from them,” Chaney said following the game. “It was only on [Louisville’s] side of the floor, but then someone threw ice on the floor. [The referees] were only following what they said.”
On the ensuing play Temple inbounded the ball to Kevin Lyde. He was fouled and missed the free throw with Louisville gaining possession.
“We could have used Lynn in that situation,” Chaney said. “There were two guys on him and Kevin (Lyde) was supposed to set a screen on him to go to the basket.”
Louisville had a chance to tie the game with 10 seconds left but Simeon Naydenov could not knock down an open three-point shot.
Temple has now won six of their last seven games and 10 of their last 12. Their only blemish in recent memory was to La Salle during the A-10 Tournament.
Greer poured in 20 of his 27 points in the second half. He led the Owls in scoring, while going 4-of-10 from behind the arc.
Lyde chipped in with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting. David Hawkins added 11, while Wesby and Polk contributed eight and five points, respectively.
Reece Gaines led the Cardinals with 16 points on 4-of-10 from 3-point land. Luke Whitehead added 14 points, while Carlos Hurt was woeful, only scoring 6 points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Scott Chafetz can be reached at Scottec@rocketmail.com