Temple tops La Salle in triple overtime

Temple Men’s Basketball narrowly escaped with its 106-99 win Wednesday night at home, and the Owls will play for the first-ever Big 5 Classic championship Saturday.

Steve Settle played 50 of the game's 55 minutes and hit the game-tying three in overtime en route to Temple's 106-99 win against La Salle. | EAMON HOYE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With less than two minutes remaining, Temple led La Salle by eight points, only needing to hold on for a chance to claim a spot in the first-ever Big 5 Classic Tournament championship.

Out of nowhere, the Explorers started to chip away at the Owls’ lead, suddenly making it a contest.

La Salle guard Jhamir Brickus hit a game-tying three pointer with five seconds remaining off a pump fake that sent his defender flying. The Explorers sent the game to overtime thanks to a 9-1 run, keeping their hopes of a place in the championship alive.

The Explorers continued their momentum into the extra period, but the Owls held the tie for two extra periods before taking control of the third overtime.

Temple (4-2, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) beat La Salle (5-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10) 106-99 in a triple-overtime thriller Wednesday night at The Liacouras Center. The Owls will face Saint Joseph’s Saturday, looking to become the inaugural city champions.

“It’s awesome,” Fisher said. “We know it’s going to be a great test, it’s going to be fun. It’s an NCAA tournament type of atmosphere, and it’s not often you play for a championship. We’re excited, and we have to get ready to go.”

On top of the typical drama of a Big 5 matchup, former Temple head coach and current La Salle coach Fran Dunphy returned to Temple for the first time since leaving in 2021 as the interim athletic director. Dunphy recently achieved his 600th career win. 

“It’s a unique experience,” Fisher said. “That’s someone I watched through the years growing up, thinking all the great things he did and all the great stuff he did. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who said anything bad about him.”

Temple struggled to find a rhythm on offense in the first half, shooting 35 percent from the field and 20 percent from three. Guard Hysier Miller’s ability to get downhill forced La Salle to collapse on defense and helped the Owls stay within striking distance in the first half. 

While his stats from Wednesday look inefficient, Miller led the Owls with 20 points and created many drive-and-kick opportunities for key baskets. Miller had three assists and five rebounds.

Guard Jordan Riley made his second start of the season in place of Jahlil White, who suffered a hand injury against Columbia on Nov. 18. Riley fouled out with just less than three minutes remaining in the first overtime period but finished as the Owls third-highest scorer with a season-high 16 points.

Brickus was the best player on the floor, driving hard to the basket to create high-percentage looks that led to easy points. He made all of his three-point attempts and played all 20 minutes in the half. Brickus set a record for the most points in a Big 5 game with his 41 points.  

The Owls continued to struggle to guard Brickus on the perimeter, and La Salle was able to find spots on the floor that led to easier opportunities. The Explorers found the free throw line as well, knocking down 74.3 percent of their chances.

Temple took the lead with a three from guard Zion Stanford with nine minutes left in regulation to put them up 52-50. This sparked a 12-5 Temple run with just about four minutes remaining. 

The Owls struggled to close out regulation. They allowed the Explorers to come back from as many as nine points before Brickus hit a step-back three to tie the game at 71 with five seconds left. Temple guard Marco Picarelli missed a transition three off the iron, and the game went into overtime.

“We had our chances,” Dunphy said. “We were dead to water at the end of regulation but found a way somehow to make it work.”

Brickus continued his excellent scoring performance in overtime, converting an and-one layup that put Riley out of the game with his fifth foul. This gave La Salle a 74-72 lead with just less than three minutes remaining. 

Temple continued to fight in the waning minutes of the first overtime, but La Salle went up three after Brickus knocked down two free throws with 10 seconds left. After a timeout, Temple forward Steve Settle III hit a long three-pointer that sent the game into a second overtime. 

Settle finished with 19 points and a game-high 16 rebounds coming off his minutes restriction during Temple’s loss to Ole Miss on Nov. 22.

La Salle went up two with just more than one minute remaining in the second overtime, but they couldn’t keep the Owls off the free-throw line. Temple hit two free throws to tie the game at 91 and both teams ended up going scoreless through the last minute of the second overtime. 

The Owls went deep into their bench in the third overtime period as four players fouled out, but Temple guard Quante Berry provided the boost the Owls needed in the extra period with 12 of his 13 points happening in the extras.

La Salle appeared to run out of energy, as they couldn’t make shots to keep pace with Temple’s players off the bench. Temple went up seven with 14 seconds left after two Berry free throws and held on to defeat La Salle in an exhilarating finish.  

The Owls will look to claim the first-ever Big 5 Classic Tournament championship when they play Saint Joseph’s (5-2, 0-0 A10) on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.

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