Temple extended its winning streak to eight games this past week, as its chase for a Top 25 spot continued.
The Owls registered key Atlantic 10 victories with a 79-72 triumph over George Washington and a 85-72 win over Xavier. Those two victories nearly vaulted Temple (19-5, 8-2 A-10) into the Top 25 as they received 122 points in the poll, leaving them just one spot away from the grabbing the 25th spot.
Against the Colonials (9-16, 4-7 A-10), Temple struggled early and often, finding itself in a 41-29 hole by the end of the first half. With the help of junior guard Lasan Kromah (22 points), GW was able to hold a double-digit lead throughout the majority of the game.
Trailing 67-57 with just over five minutes remaining in the game, junior guard Khalif Wyatt picked the Owls up to full speed, as he outscored the entire Colonial team, 15-5 in the final minutes. Wyatt finished the game with 22 points, while co-captain Ramone Moore tallied a game-high 25 points.
On Saturday, the Owls faced their toughest matchup since their January matchup in Duke. Early A-10 conference favorite Xavier (16-9, 7-4 A-10) arrived in Philadelphia with high hopes, but left in shock, after taking an 85-72 beating.
Performing in front of nearly 10,000 fans, Moore came through as the game-leading scorer for the sixth-straight game, putting up 30 this time around. His efforts over the course of the week earned him his second straight Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Week award.
Nigerian big-man Micheal played an integral role in the victory over the Musketeers as he scored 11 points, and grabbed 16 rebounds.
La Salle continues to fall
La Salle, who a week and a half ago was tied for the top spot in the A-10, has suddenly plummeted, losing three straight, after starting off with a 6-2 conference record.
After falling to Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 4 to begin the streak, the Explorers (17-9, 6-5 A-10) travelled to Richmond on Wednesday to take on the Spiders (13-13, 4-7 A-10).
La Salle kept it close throughout the game, but was unable to come out victorious.
For Richmond, sophomore Derrick Williams starred, as he scored two crucial baskets to close out the game, and grabbed six offensive rebounds in the final two minutes, including four on one possession.
Trailing by two with less than a minute remaining, Williams drove to the basket to score a game-tying layup. Then, with the score tied at 76, the Owls were unable to manage their time offensively, as the shot clock ran out, resulting in a turnover.
Tghe Spiders put the ball in the hands of Cedrick Lindsay, who missed the game-winner with seven seconds left. However, it was Williams who gobbled up the offensive board and then followed through with the game winning lay-up. Williams finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds in the 78-76 nail-biter.
The Explorers hosted Saint Louis on Saturday, hoping to keep a 14-game home winning streak alive, however, the defense of the Billikens (20-5 8-3 A-10) was too stifling for La Salle, as SLU went on for a 59-51 win.
Saint Louis had four players reach double-digits and played suffocating defense, allowing the Explorers to score only 51 points. La Salle was still able to stick around for the majority of the game, due mostly to the play of freshman Jerrell Wright. The forward scored 18 points and pulled down nine boards.
The win made the Billikens the first 20-win team in the A-10 this year.
Taylor Snow can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Snow.