ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Knowing his days playing Temple basketball are numbered, Mark Tyndale has carried the men’s basketball team down the season’s final stretch.
The senior guard has been the Owls’ best all-around player. He shoots. He rebounds. He finds the open shooter. He’s solidified his defense. Perhaps most importantly, he’s played with intensity.
Tyndale did not have one of his better nights Thursday, when the Owls escaped Boardwalk Hall with an 84-75 win against La Salle in the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
It wasn’t a bad game – he tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists – but it wasn’t exactly a great game either – those seven turnovers and four personal fouls almost proved costly.
“My teammates picked me up big-time today,” Tyndale said. “They hit some shots. I had a few turnovers, but I had a lot of assists. They bailed me out a lot of times.”
Actually, with the score tied at 75-75 with 1:57 left, Chris Clark posted Tyndale’s bail. The senior guard scored six consecutive points on three free throws and a three-pointer, putting the Explorers (15-17) in a position where they needed to foul.
The win kept alive the senior duo’s dream of reaching its first NCAA Tournament. The Owls will play Charlotte at 9 p.m. Friday in the semifinals, where Clark and Tyndale have lost twice in their career.
Knowing this year marks their last chance to reach the A-10 final, it wouldn’t be unordinary if Tyndale’s seven turnovers were the result of pressing a bit too much.
He insisted he hadn’t.
“No, not at all,” Tyndale said. “I was just trying to make plays.”
Owls coach Fran Dunphy thought differently.
“He wants to win very badly,” Dunphy said. “He tried some things he probably shouldn’t try. There were two turnovers in the second half that he just can’t have. … He made a couple decisions that I’m sure he regrets and we’ll talk about as we watch our film over the next day.”
Tyndale acknowledged the turnovers – two of which came on offensive charges – but credited the Explorers’ defense.
“They closed a lot of gaps,” Tyndale said. “They did a great job as a team defensively on me in shutting certain things down that I like to do and stuff that I’m capable of doing.”
Still, Tyndale has kept his poise while leading the Owls (19-12) to the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
On the season he averaged 16.1 points, 6.8 assists and 4.0 steals. During the Owls’ final nine regular-season games, those numbers ballooned to 17.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Not coincidentally, the Owls won seven of those games.
Tyndale said he’s realized his college career is coming to end. All season he’s said he wants to make the NCAA Tournament. And he said stepping onto the Boardwalk Hall hardwood in a win-or-go-home atmosphere made it all the more real Thursday.
“It’s more realistic when you’re out on the court playing the game,” Tyndale said. “You’re just trying to win. You’re just grabbing it and diving on the floor for loose balls for your team.
“You’re not just playing for yourself. You’re playing for everybody who came before you and everybody who is in that locker room.”
Tyndale gets the chance to do that at least one more time.
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also read: “Clark to the rescue”