Owls upset No. 10 Xavier, advance to A-10 championship

DAYTON, Ohio – The city of Dayton is nothing glamorous. Its skyline isn’t too impressive, and there aren’t many exciting things to keep one entertained, yet the Temple Owls don’t want to leave. And after

DAYTON, Ohio – The city of Dayton is nothing glamorous. Its skyline isn’t too impressive, and there aren’t many exciting things to keep one entertained, yet the Temple Owls don’t want to leave.
And after gutting out the biggest upset of this year’s Atlantic 10 tournament with a 63-57 win over the 10th ranked Xavier Musketeers last night. The Owls will play Dayton tonight for the A-10 championship.
Compared to the Musketeers, the Owls came into the game undersized and underrated. Refusing to back down, the Owls gradually picked apart the Musketeers, snapping their school-record 16 game-winning streak.
Just six days ago these same Musketeers thumped the Owls by 31. The win puts the Owls over the .500 mark for the first time this season as they find themselves one win away from advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
The Owls were energized by clutch shooting from junior guards Brian Polk – who scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half – and David Hawkins’ 21 points. But Coach John Chaney’s legendary matchup zone was the real reason for the victory.
“I remember one of my old brothers who died a few years back, Jim Maloney, who used to always remind me of how I taught my zone, and that was to be tight,” said Chaney, who has now guided the Owls to their 13th conference championship appearance.
Scoring 26 points off of 20 turnovers and holding the Musketeers to 38 percent shooting was key as the Owls took advantage of their defense and converting it to offense.
The Owls were down just three at the half, but that said little, since they had been dealt with a six-point deficit against the Musketeers last Saturday. Shooting just 1-of-5 in the first half, Polk, who also caught fire in the second half of the Richmond win, started his shooting rampage with a bank shot that gave the Owls a 27-26 with 18:25 left to go.
The game was close all the way through and it became pretty evident that a large contingent of Temple fans were shrewdly disguised as Dayton Flyer supporters. Not wanting to see their hated rival succeed, the Flyers fans, who made up a majority of the crowd, treated the Owls like the hometown favorite.
Polk nailed a huge three pointer from dead center, putting the Owls up 42-40. And then with just under five minutes left, he netted another from the same spot, giving the Owls a five-point lead.
“I just got in the groove and when you get in the groove it’s kind of hard to get off of it,” Polk said.
Freshman Mardy Collins added,”We know that sooner or later he’s going to start making shots, so we just keep driving, look for him spreading and sooner or later he is going to make shots, and when he starts making shots he’s hard to stop.?
As the game began to wind down, the unexpected possibility of the Owls beating the Musketeers became very real with every shot they hit.
Then freshman Mardy Collins made the biggest shot of the game. With the shot clock winding down and David West guarding Collins at the top of the key, the freshman nonchalantly buried a three over the A-10 Player of the Year, giving the Owls a 60-51 lead with 58 seconds to go. The crowd roared with delight.
Collins said of that shot, “I tried to get the defender on his heels, and I just pulled up and it happened to go in.”
At times both teams seemed to be giving the game away at the free-throw line. The Musketeers ended the game 8-for-18 from the line and the Owls didn’t fare much better, going 5-of-13.
The inexperienced Owls showed some nerves early as they hoisted up a few rushed threes, while exchanging a multitude of turnovers with the Musketeers. It didn’t take long for David Hawkins to take things upon himself. After an Antywane Robinson offensive rebound, Hawkins drained a three. On their next possession, Hawkins was isolated with the ball, blowing by his defender unabated for a dunk giving the Owls a 17-11 advantage with 8:57 to go before half.
West was held without a field goal in the first half. He ended the game with 12 points and 15 rebounds on just 7 shots attempted.
Hawkins said the Owls were inspired by comments made by West before the tournament.
“Everybody is wishing everybody good luck in the tournament, and he just comes out like we’re automatically going to give it to them,” Hawkins said. “I know I was fired up to come out and win this game.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.