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September 22, 2016

Playoff picture still uncertain in A-10

As the men’s basketball season draws to a close, one cannot help but wonder where their teams will end up this postseason, as many seeds are still ripe for the taking.

Near the top of the Atlantic 10 conference, the first-place seed is separated by four games for seven teams, with the top four teams being separated by just two games.  Temple (24-5, 12-2 A-10) is tied with Xavier (21-7, 12-2 A-10) for first place, with Richmond (22-7, 11-3 A-10) trailing by one game, and St. Louis (19-9, 10-4 A-10) by two.

For the number eight seed in the conference, four teams are within two games of each other.  Duquesne (15-13, 6-8 A-10) is in the eighth seed, tied with George Washington (16-11, 6-8 A-10) and St. Bonaventure (13-14, 6-8 A-10).  Massachusetts (10-18, 4-10 A-10) is behind them by only two games, and still has a chance of getting into the top eight.

With only two games left in the season, every win is important to the top 11 teams in the A-10.  Each of these teams has a major opportunity to either gain or lose crucial ground in the positioning race, adding to the already huge drama of the playoff scene.

In their final two games, the Minutemen will face the Explorers on the road on March 3, and the Rams at home in the Mullins Center on March 6.

Holloway Guides Xavier Past Spiders

In thrilling fashion, guard Terrell Holloway helped Xavier keep both its home winning streak and chances at taking the A-10 conference championship alive against Richmond in double-overtime on Monday afternoon.

The Musketeers (21-7, 12-2 A-10) were led by Holloway’s 24 points and five rebounds on Monday, with seven of those points being scored in the second overtime period.  Forward Jason Love and guard Jordan Crawford also had big games, with Love scoring 16 points and nine rebounds and Crawford scoring 19 points.  Though only 10 points came from the Musketeer bench (all of which were scored by Mark Lyons), the team was still able to hang tough and outlast a Richmond team that gave them a run for their money.

The Spiders certainly did not disappoint, bringing everything they could muster to the table, and were led by guard David Gonzalvez.  Gonzalvez finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, five steals and an assist, with guard Kevin Anderson and forward Justin Harper both contributing with 17 points and 15 points.

Richmond, which at one point led by three points, came into the game riding an eight-game winning streak against a Musketeer lineup that has won 31 straight games at home, the first of which dates back to the tail end of the 2005-06 season.  They had also stopped multiple Xavier surges, including ones at both the end of the second half and in the first overtime period, but could not hold up against the final push of Holloway in the second overtime.  The Spiders are currently one game behind the Musketeers.

Temple Defeats Slumping Explorers

The Owls made a conference-shaking statement in their second-half domination over the Explorers on Monday afternoon.

The Owls revealed their offensive prowess in guard Juan Fernandez, who scored 23 points against the Explorer defense.  The big star of the day for Temple, however, was forward Lavoy Allen, who had 21 rebounds to go with 17 points in an impressive performance on the day.

The Explorers, despite 21 and 17 point efforts by guard Rodney Green and forward Jerrell Williams, could not match the explosive second-half surge of the Temple offense.  To make matters worse, a short-handed bench was only able to provide three points in the game.

Though the Owls were down by one point in the first half, they went on an 18-0 run at the start of the second half and outscored the Explorers 33-20 overall in the half.  The game was a big boost for Temple, as they used it to send a message to the Musketeers, who are tied atop the A-10 standings.  The Owls have two games left on the season, with the Bilikens and the Colonials both looking to make some noise in the A-10 standings.

David Martin can be reached at dmmartin@student.umass.edu.

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