Despite a 15-7 record heading into Saturday’s matchup with Dayton, the Temple men’s basketball team possessed a mediocre 4-4 Atlantic 10 Conference record. Looking to break away from the pack, the Owls simply couldn’t afford a loss to a Flyers squad in the midst of a down season.
Behind Khalif Wyatt’s 20 points, Temple (16-7, 5-4 A-10) stormed back from a 10-point deficit to defeat Dayton, 72-71, Saturday in Dayton, Ohio.
Wyatt’s 3-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation gave the Owls a one-point lead, finishing a comeback that began with four minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the game. Trailing 68-58, Temple’s Scootie Randall sparked a 14-3 run with five points of his own.
The Flyers (13-10, 3-6 A-10), who have lost three of their last four games, possessed the ball on the final possession, but leading scorer Kevin Dillard mishandled the ball with three seconds to go, allowing Owls guard Will Cummings to steal the ball to seal the victory.
Dillard led Dayton with 16 points and five assists.
In the end, it was Wyatt who provided timely baskets, a running theme throughout the season for Temple. Wyatt leads the A-10 with 18.9 points per game.
The Owls travel to UMass on Saturday, while the Flyers travel to Rhode Island Wednesday.
VCU wins 3rd straight, defeats Charlotte
After back-to-back late January conference losses stunned the school, Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart’s squad finally showed weakness to the rest of the A-10. On the road against a hungry Charlotte team, the Rams held off the 49ers for a 68-61 victory on Saturday.
A strong second half performance by Rob Brandenberg carried VCU (19-5, 7-2 A-10), thwarting a 49er team eager to make a statement victory. Brandenberg scored 14 points in the second half en route to 21 points on the night. The confident shooting proved to be contagious, as the Rams shot 51.9 percent and hit 7-of-18 3-pointers.
Charlotte (17-6, 5-4 A-10) also shot above 50 percent on the night, hitting 51.1 percent of its field goals. But the 49ers overcame their own miscues, shooting 1-of-7 from behind the arc, committing 17 turnovers and missing 10 free throws.
Terrence Williams and Willie Clayton combined for 25 of Charlotte’s 61 points.
VCU led by as many as 14 points while enjoying a strong game from Juvonte Reddic, who tallied 14 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
The Rams host UMass Thursday night, while the 49ers host Butler Wednesday night.
Butler holds off GW
George Washington’s attempt at playing spoiler fell shy Saturday, as Butler defeated the Colonials, 59-56.
The No. 14 Bulldogs (20-4, 7-2 A-10) saw a 17-point lead shrink to a single point with 44 seconds to go. Despite allowing GW multiple opportunities to win the game in the last 10 seconds, the Bulldogs escaped with a victory.
Fourteen points from leading scorer Rotnei Clarke and two crucial free throws by Kellen Dunham secured the win for Butler.
Playing in front of their first home sellout crowd in almost seven years, the Colonials (11-11, 5-4 A-10) quickly erased a 17-point deficit in 12 minutes. Despite starting four freshmen, George Washington was paced by its only starting upperclassmen, junior forward Isaiah Armwood, who scored 14 points, while adding 11 rebounds and two assists.
Butler gave the Colonials a chance to tie at the end of regulation, as Roosevelt Jones traveled while attempting to inbound with nine seconds. After a GW missed 3, the subsequent rebound resulted in a jump ball, giving the Colonials one final shot. However, poor 3-point shooting plagued George Washington (1-of-12 on the day), who could not get the final three to fall.
The Bulldogs travel to Charlotte Wednesday night, and the Colonials host VCU on Saturday.
Mark Chiarelli can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.