Everyone in the arena felt it coming.
When Mark Tyndale received the ball at midcourt with 13.2 seconds left in a 55-55 tie game against Eastern Michigan Saturday afternoon, everyone in the Liacoruas Center thought the senior guard was about to stampede his way to the basket.
But as he began to make his move, Eastern Michigan bottled up the lane. Without hesitation, Tyndale pulled the ball back, sidestepped to his left and hoisted up a three-point attempt that ripped through the net with 1.2 seconds remaining.
On the final play, Tyndale intercepted Zane Gay’s Hail Mary pass from the inbounds line.
Tyndale last-second heroics provided the difference in Temple’s 58-55 win over visiting Eastern Michigan. His game-winner gave Temple (6-5 overall) its 100th victory in the Liacouras Center and put the Owls above .500 for the first time this season.
“Everybody in the gym probably thought I was going to the basket, so I probably surprised everybody with that jump shot,” said Tyndale, who scored eight of his 10 points in the final six minutes, 26 seconds of the contest.
Junior guard Dionte Christmas secured his third double-double in the last four games, pacing the Owls with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
But it was Tyndale who led the Owls down the stretch.
“At the end of the game, we always look to get the ball to Mark, open the floor up and let Mark make the right decision to win the game,” Christmas said. “Today, he came through big.”
Tyndale drained a trey to give the Owls a 47-46 lead with 6:26 left after a wild five minute segment where the lead switched hands six times and both teams jacked up more than 10 three-pointers. After Christmas sank a three on the next possession, Tyndale scored on a driving lay-up to put Temple up, 52-46, with 5:27 remaining.
The same drive that gave Temple its largest lead of the second half got Tyndale in trouble nearly five minutes later when the Eagles rallied back and cut the lead to two.
Senior center James Matthews drew a charge on Tyndale with 33.3 seconds left in the game.
“I didn’t think it was one of [Tyndale’s] best games taking it to the basket,” Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. “Mark has to be really concerned with people stepping in to take charges because that’s what he does … He needs to take it to the basket but he also needs to make real good decisions.”
Following Tyndale’s offensive foul, 6-0 junior guard Carlos Medlock hit a jumper over 5-8 senior guard Chris Clark to knot the game at 55. Medlock led the Eagles with 19 points, while senior guard Jesse Bunkley added 15.
The Owls were outscored, 9-3, before Tyndale’s game-winner with seconds remaining.
“Just a couple of defensive lapses,” Christmas said about the Eagles’ late run. “We gave away a lot of offensive rebounds, we over-helped a little bit and that opened them up for threes, they got a lot of open looks and they did a good job of knocking those shots down.”
Eastern Michigan shot 10 of 27 from deep, but missed their final four three-point attempts. The Eagles’ errant long-range shooting sealed the victory for the Owls, who have six days before their next game against Florida, the two-time defending national champions, at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Tyndale, for one, was content that the Eagles didn’t have enough to squeak out the victory.
“It would’ve been a long holiday for us,” he said.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at email@example.com.