UMass stuns No. 21 Temple 77-71 in A-10 tourney

Temple made its second exit from the A-10 this week.

Two days after Temple said it was bolting the Atlantic 10 for

the Big East following next season, the Owls made the kind of

farewell they were looking to avoid: One game and out in the

conference tournament.

Jesse Morgan scored 21 points and Chaz Williams had 20 to lead

Massachusetts to a 77-71 win over No. 21 Temple on Friday,

advancing to the Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals.

The eighth-seeded Minutemen (22-10) stunned No. 1-seed Temple

with a 15-0 run to open the second half and spoil the Owls’ bid for

a fourth tournament title in five seasons.

”We get down, we don’t stay down,” Temple coach Dunphy said.

”Hopefully, we use this an opportunity to play better

basketball.”

The top-seeded Owls (24-7) still have basketball to play this

March. Temple won its first outright A-10 title since 1990, and

will still be in the NCAA tournament field of 68.

”When you’re playing a Top 25 team who’s been here, and kind of

done very well here, sometimes you’re not exactly certain how

things are going to work out,” UMass coach Derek Kellogg said.

He had little to worry about after halftime.

UMass took control in the second half on a string of 3-pointers

and Williams clinched it down the stretch from the free-throw line.

Williams popped his No. 3 jersey toward a small but vocal group of

UMass fans behind the basket in celebration.

Khalif Wyatt scored 15 points and Ramone Moore had 14 for the

Owls. Temple won its first outright A-10 title since 1990, and will

still be in the NCAA tournament field of 68.

”We made a lot of mistakes down the stretch,” Moore said. ”In

these types of games, you’ve got to be perfect down the

stretch.”

The game was another back-and-forth showdown in the second half,

reminiscent of the last meeting, Temple’s thrilling 90-88 overtime

win on Feb. 29.

Knowing a tournament bid depended on winning the A-10, the

Minutemen shook off a sluggish first half to outwork and outhustle

Temple in the second. Morgan, Raphiael Putney and Terrell Vinson

all buried 3-pointers, and Williams’ lob to Carter for an emphatic

alley-oop made it 46-36.

Williams, about an inch or two shorter than his 5-foot-9 listed

height, saluted the UMass fans behind the basket.

”It’s just his passion,” Carter said.

Even though the run pushed the momentum back toward UMass, the

Owls didn’t have another standout season because they fold in

crunch time.

Once Moore and Juan Fernandez shook off some cold shooting, the

Owls got going and pulled ahead of UMass. But Temple simply didn’t

have enough in the waning minutes. Moore connected on three

straight 3-pointers and Fernandez hit a 3 to pull within 55-50. The

Owls tried to win this one from the outside. But they did little to

stop Williams and the Minutemen’s speedy guards.

In the end, it cost them.

Morgan and Javorn Ferrell hit back-to-back 3s for a 68-64 lead –

making the Minutemen a sizzling 9 of 16 from beyond the arc.

Williams made 8 of 10 free throws and Morgan hit three

3-pointers.

UMass played the final 4 1/2 minutes without a timeout. The

Minutemen didn’t need one.

Williams made it a four-point game from the free-throw line

after Temple pulled to within two with 28 seconds left.

Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson scored 13 points for Temple and

Fernandez had 12. Micheal Eric grabbed 11 rebounds to help Temple

hold a 39-30 edge on the boards. Temple made a whopping 22

turnovers.

”We didn’t answer very well,” Dunphy said.

Wyatt started on the bench for what the Owls called a recent

”timing issue,” and was replaced by T.J. DiLeo.

The Owls are still locks for the NCAA tournament. But it could

affect their seeding. It could also hurt a bubble team like Drexel,

Temple’s Philly neighbor. The Dragons certainly didn’t need a

tournament favorite to go down early. Drexel coach Bruiser Flint,

incidentally, led UMass the last time it made the tournament in

1998.

This is the final tournament in New Jersey before it moves to

the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Owls are leaving for

the Big East after next season.

Temple led 36-31 at the break. By the time UMass led 46-31 in

the second, though, the Owls didn’t know what hit them. After all,

Williams is talented, fast and too hard to guard.

Temple won the last meeting by making all the big plays in

overtime. It was UMass’ turn when it really counted this time.

”Once we found out Temple was our first matchup, we just locked

in and learned from our mistakes from last game,” Williams said.

”We just tried to move on from them.”

Mission accomplished.