With less than five minutes remaining in a tightly-contested matchup against St. Joseph’s Saturday night, Temple’s Mark Tyndale simply took over the game.
The senior guard made crucial plays on both ends of the floor – blocking sophomore guard Garrett Williamson’s breakaway dunk attempt at the 3:29 mark and poking the ball away from senior forward Rob Ferguson to force a turnover with 20 seconds remaining. If that wasn’t enough, Tyndale scored the final 12 points of the game for the Owls.
But, in the end, it was the shot Tyndale didn’t make that would cost Temple the win as visiting St. Joseph’s escaped with a 68-67 victory in front of a crowd of 10,045 at the Liacouras Center.
After Tyndale failed to convert the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt on the Owls’ second-to-last possesion, senior forward Pat Calathes nailed a three-pointer to give the Hawks (12-5, 4-1 in the Atlantic Ten Conference) a one-point lead with 3.2 seconds remaining.
The Owls (9-9, 2-2) chose not to call a timeout after Calathes’ basket and, instead, pushed the ball to Tyndale for the final shot, but his potential game-winning lay-up attempt was blocked by junior center Ahmad Nivins, who appeared to get a hand on the ball while it was on the glass.
The controversial ending led to much discussion from players and coaches from both teams following the game.
“I was just in the locker room watching and from one angle it looked like it was goaltending. From another angle, it looked like it was a good block,” Tyndale said. “I was waiting to see the referees’ reaction but I saw them run into the back, so I knew the game was over.”
With the win, the Hawks snapped Temple’s three-game winning streak. St. Joe’s has defeated Temple in 12 of their last 13 meetings.
As the final buzzer sounded, all the players on St. Joe’s bench ran to midcourt to celebrate.
“I’m still numb, still trying to figure out exactly what happened,” St. Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said about the game’s frantic ending.
The Hawks were led by Calathes, who scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Ferguson added 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting.
The Owls were paced by senior guard Dionte Christmas’ 21 points, but it was Tyndale who carried the team over the final five minutes of the contest. Tyndale scored 13 of his 18 points after intermission, but the missed free throw and the blocked lay-up attempt tainted his second-half performance.
“I just feel as though I let my team down,” Tyndale said.
After leaving the media room, Tyndale, several of his teammates and a couple of reporters huddled in front of a TV in the Owls’ locker room to re-watch the final seconds of the game, which was nationally broadcast by ESPNU. In front of Temple Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw, senior guard Chris Clark fast forwarded to the end of the broadcast, which showed footage of Martelli sarcastically yawning at the Temple student section during his exit. In turn, footage also showed fans pelting Martelli with debris as he walked through the tunnel to the locker room.
Earlier, during St. Joseph’s media conference, a less-emotive Martelli said he didn’t know what to say to coach Fran Dunphy after the game.
“That was the toughest handshake in this rivalry,” Martelli said.
“I think the better team didn’t win,” Martelli said. “I thought they played better than us for long stretches of the game.”
The Owls were ahead by as much as 11 points in the first half despite being without sophomore point guard Luis Guzman, who injured his hip in Temple’s 80-64 win over Penn Wednesday. Junior guard Semaj Inge, who started in place of Guzman, scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half to help the Owls establish a 35-28 halftime lead.
Temple held a 51-46 advantage with about 10 minutes remaining when the Hawks went on a 6-0 run to take their first lead since the early stages of the game.
The lead bounced back-and-forth until Calathes sank his game-winning three-pointer. He went 4-of-9 from deep range.
“I definitely wanted the last shot,” Calathes said. “I heard coach yelling at them from the opposite end, ‘guard Calathes, guard Calathes.'”
The Owls obviously didn’t hear the message.
“It’s a tough loss, no question about it,” Dunphy said.
The Owls played in front of their largest home crowd since January 31, 2004. On that date, Temple lost to St. Joseph’s, 83-71, in front of 10,421 at the Liacouras Center.
The Owls will play Fordham (8-9, 2-3) at the Rose Hill Gym Thursday at 8 p.m.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.