With two minutes, 28 seconds left Mark Williams picked up his fifth foul and exited the court at the Liacouras Center one last time.
The home crowd rose to its feet and gave Williams a thunderous applause.
While at times this season Temple faithful have been critical of the senior forward, he earned the proper sendoff in his last home game for the Owls.
Williams scored 20 points, collected six rebounds and added three assists and two blocks in Saturday’s 86-76 double overtime win against Tulane on Senior Day.
“It was like you’re about to move out of your childhood house,” Williams said. “You just look around and you get that last feeling.”
As the first overtime wound down, Tulane redshirt-junior guard Cameron Reynolds, who scored 21 points Saturday, slipped and the ball was loose. Williams dove on the floor before passing the ball to sophomore guard Shizz Alston Jr., who was fouled and put the Owls (15-15, 6-11 American Athletic Conference) up by three with 5.4 seconds left. Alston led all scorers with 25 points Saturday.
After coach Fran Dunphy called timeout, Green Wave redshirt-senior forward Malik Morgan dribbled down the court and knocked down a three at the top of the key with no time left to tie the game at 71 and send it to a second overtime.
“We wanted to pick them up as soon as we can, not allow a go-by, but if someone gets by you, chest them, whatever, don’t let him get a full head of steam to the basket,” Dunphy said. “Shizz just backed off him and obviously Morgan made a great shot.”
After Wednesday’s loss against Central Florida, Williams came back onto the court at the Liacouras Center and took shots from where he’d missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer.
From a similar spot on the opposite end of the floor, Williams made his first shot attempt against Tulane on Saturday afternoon. He played a crucial part for the Owls down the stretch.
With Temple trailing 65-60 and less than two minutes left in the second half, Williams secured an offensive rebound and put it back up, then converted the and-one to pull Temple within two. Later on, Williams tipped an offensive rebound to Alston who laid it in to tie the game at 65 and eventually send it to overtime.
“I couldn’t get it, so I saw him and I just tipped it,” Williams said. “He grabbed it and put it in.”
“He didn’t shoot it great, but he did a lot of really good things for us,” coach Fran Dunphy said of Williams. “I thought the best thing he did was he got the offensive rebound stickback for the 3-point play. That was a terrific play.”
The Owls trailed again in overtime until Williams drove to the lane and put his team up 67-66 with an awkward finger roll / floater in the lane. On the next possession he gave Temple a three-point lead with an up-and-under move, scoring with his left hand.
“The shots that he usually takes in practice that the crowd might say, ‘Oh that’s a bad shot,’ sometimes it might be a bad shot,” redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle said. “But he does a great job practicing those bad shots. … We won the game because his effort defensively and those two big buckets in overtime.”
Williams was one of three seniors recognized before Saturday’s game. Redshirt-senior swingman Daniel Dingle and senior guard Mike Robbins also took part in the ceremony.
After Williams hit the first three of the game, Robbins scored Temple’s next four points. Robbins finished with seven points in the first half as Temple went into the break with a 35-28 lead. Robbins played 22 minutes, scoring seven points and collecting four rebounds, including a defensive board in the second overtime that helped seal the victory.
“When we were walking out underneath the basket to shake the coaches’ hands they had my jersey framed along with Dan’s and Mark’s,” Robbins said. “Just seeing the No. 22 in the frame really let it sink in on me.”
Owen McCue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Owen_McCue. Follow The Temple News on Twitter @TheTemple News and @TTN_Sports.