CINCINNATI – The men’s basketball team has an ‘X’ factor. His name is Dustin Salisbery. During the regular season, the streaky junior guard’s offensive output was usually a strong determinant of whether the Owls would win or lose. When he scored more than 10 points, Temple was 12-3. But when he didn’t, the Owls were 1-10 and usually sputtered to the finish. But on Wednesday afternoon at the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament, Salisbery was on. He lit up Rhode Island for 15 points to help the Owls to a 74-45 win in the tournament’s opening round at U.S. Bank Arena. To put that point total into perspective, Salisbery had previously missed three of the Owls’ last four games with an injury to his back. Forward Antywane Robinson contributed a game-high 23 points and guard Mark Tyndale had 19 for the Owls, who will face nationally ranked George Washington here tomorrow at noon in the A-10 quarterfinals. Salisbery carried Temple’s offensive load in regular season outings, so he said he had no problem doing so on a slightly bigger stage. “I just do what I can,” he said. The ninth-seeded Owls (16-13) got a scare midway through the second half when Salisbery landed on his back after being fouled on a layup attempt. He wasn’t removed from the game. Last week coach John Chaney said he wasn’t even sure if Salisbery would be able to play in the tournament. Chaney said Salisbery, along with Mardy Collins and Robinson, rounds out the Owls’ offensive threats. “You got to have three guys, three out of five guys doing it [on offense],” Chaney said. “…You need a trilogy, someone to do something [and] create anything.” Salisbery was a scratch from practice this week. He said a number of exercises combined with the constant application of heat pads helped his progress. “Aside from a little exercising, I haven’t been doing anything but get [heat treatment] and taking Advil,” Salisery said. He showed no signs of weakness against the eighth-seeded Rams. There wasn’t even an occasional wince. The Owls led the Rams (14-14) from wire to wire. In the second half, Temple exploded for a 21-0 run. But the Owls weren’t through. They put the game out of reach by scoring the next seven points to extend their lead to 70-35. The Owls will have their hands full tomorrow, when they will tip off against No. 6 GW, the tournament’s top seed. The Colonials (26-1) will be without the services of senior forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week. Tyndale was a bit reluctant to say that the Owls’ positive showing against the Rams would be enough to take down GW. “[Thursday] is a new day,” the sophomore guard said. “We have to come out with the same effort we came out [against URI] with.” HISTORY LESSON The Owls aren’t regulars to the first round of the A-10 tournament. In fact, this contest was just their second-ever opening-round outing, with their only other coming in 1997 in a winning effort against Duquesne. The Rams got the best of the Owls the last time the two teams met in the A-10 tournament, in the 1999 A-10 final at the Spectrum. ACCOLADES For much of the game, Collins was non-existent on the scoreboard. Though he recorded 10 assists and four steals, Collins scored just six points. The senior point guard was named on Monday to the all-A-10 first team. Robinson earned a spot on the all-A-10 second team. PHOTOS For more photos from the Owls’ 74-45 win over Rhode Island in the A-10 tourney, please visit Temple News staff photographer Steve Gengler’s Web site at www.stephengengler.com/uri Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.