Temple-Richmond Preview

Last month, Richmond had a relatively easy time handing Temple

its most recent defeat. The Spiders know pulling off another upset

of the Atlantic 10’s top team won’t be as easy this time

around.

The top-seeded and 17th-ranked Owls have a chance to avenge that

loss and claim their third consecutive conference tournament title

as they face the third-seeded Spiders on Sunday in Atlantic City,

N.J.

One of only two A-10 teams to beat Temple (28-5), Richmond

dominated in a 71-54 home rout of the then-No. 19 Owls on Feb. 6.

Temple shot 32.1 percent, committed 13 turnovers and allowed the

Spiders to shoot 57.8 percent – the best effort by any opponent

this season.

That loss, however, must have lit a fire under the Owls, who’ve

since won nine in a row, thanks in part to a suffocating defense

that’s paced their run to the tournament finals.

“We know they’re solid and want to get revenge,” Richmond guard

David Gonzalvez said. “We don’t expect it to be easy.”

Temple, the first No. 1 seed to reach the finals since 2005, has

won a conference-record eight titles and looks to become the first

team to win three in a row since Massachusetts won five straight

from 1992-96. If the Owls play as well as they have over the last

month, it might not matter who’s standing in their way of becoming

the first top seed to win the tournament since Xavier in 2002.

Owners of the league’s best defense that allowed 56.8 points per

game during the regular season, Temple held Rhode Island to 27.1

percent shooting in Saturday’s 57-44 semifinal victory. It came one

day after the Owls, who’ve won eight straight A-10 tournament

games, held St. Bonaventure to 35.8 percent shooting in a 69-51

quarterfinal win.

“If we play this kind of basketball, it’s up to us if we want to

win (Sunday),” said Temple guard Juan Fernandez, who’s averaging

15.5 points in the tournament and missed last month’s loss at

Richmond because of a concussion. “In this tournament and this

conference, every game is harder than the last one so we have got

to stay prepared,”

Since the loss to Richmond (26-7), Temple’s last nine opponents

have averaged 52.8 points on 35.2 percent shooting.

“They look great,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “They are

one of the best teams in the country. Their defense is suffocating.

It’s going to be an enormous challenge.”

Leading scorer Ryan Brooks had 16 points Saturday for the Owls,

but he’s averaging 4.3 on 5-of-24 shooting in four career games

against Richmond.

Richmond’s Kevin Anderson scored 29 points against Temple last

month and finished with 27 in the Spiders’ 89-85 overtime win over

second-seed and 24th-ranked Xavier on Saturday to secure their

second title game berth. Gonzalvez added 26 points as Richmond tied

a school record for wins in a season by winning its fourth straight

game against a ranked opponent.

“For us to just get to this point, where we are today, is just

really rewarding,” said Gonzalvez, who’s averaging 20.3 points on

56.3 percent shooting in four career games versus Temple.

Richmond lost 73-60 to Xavier in the 2002 A-10 tournament

final.