Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

THIEVES IN THE TEMPLE \ UMass steals road win from rival Owls

PHILADELPHIA – It seemed fitting somehow for a basketball game of this magnitude to be decided in four and a half seconds of action. For a battle fought so valiantly by both sides to come down to a foul shot rimming out and a whistle remaining silent between a referee’s teeth.

That is precisely the scenario that unfolded Saturday afternoon at Temple’s Liacouras Center, when the Massachusetts men’s basketball team stunned the Owls of Temple 65-64 in overtime. UMass’ Kitwana Rhymer laid in a Monty Mack feed to give his team the lead with 26 ticks remaining, and the margin stood up when Temple’s David Hawkins missed the second of two free throws with 4.4 seconds on the clock.

Hawkins somehow pulled his own rebound out of the ensuing melee, but couldn’t get off a shot as he was swarmed by three UMass defenders. Despite vehement protest by both the Owl players and head coach John Chaney, no foul was called and the final buzzer sounded.

‘That was the worst foul of the whole game,’ Chaney said. ‘David was just knocked to the floor. They took his legs out from under him; they came right down on his arms with no ball at all. Policemen don’t beat a guy that badly.’

Mack finished with 20 points to lead all scorers, while Rhymer racked up 14 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double in four games. The win left the Minutemen with a 6-1 record in the Atlantic 10 (8-10 overall) and a tie for first place in the conference with St. Joseph’s.

The team has now won four straight and six of seven after managing only one victory in its first seven games.

‘This one should let people know that UMass is back,’ Mack said. ‘We’re the kind of team that takes something from every game and carries it over, and what we got from this one is that we can beat anybody.’

The senior guard gave UMass a shot at victory in regulation, as he was fouled by Temple’s Quincy Wadley on a perimeter jumper and converted both free throws for a 55-53 Maroon and White lead with 33.6 seconds left. But Owl Alex Wesby (10 points) banked home a second-chance layup with under 10 seconds left to lock the game at 55-all.

The Minutemen missed a chance to steal the win when Shannon Crooks’ lane runner and three subsequent tips on their final possession of regulation wouldn’t fall.

Junior guard Lynn Greer led the Owls with 16 points, seven of which he earned at the charity stripe. Hawkins and junior forward Kevin Lyde contributed 13 points apiece for Temple.

UMass head coach James ‘Bruiser’ Flint said that his team’s key defensively was stopping Wadley. The senior swingman had averaged 14 points per game during the Owls’ three defeats of the Minutemen last year.

‘Last year, it wasn’t [Mark] Karcher or Greer or Lyde who killed us; it was Quincy Wadley,’ Flint said. ‘I told Monty, ‘You’d better step up, my man.’ I thought he did a good job of guarding him today.’

Wadley finished with 10 points, but had only five points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field at the end of regulation. He had averaged over 17 points per game since the onset of A-10 conference play.

The game, televised nationally as part of ESPN’s ‘Rivalry Week’ and viewed live by over 7,000 fans at the Liacouras, was an emotional seesaw affair of 15 lead changes and countless clutch shots. Temple built an early four-point edge (11-7) on the bruising inside play of Lyde, whom Rhymer simply couldn’t contain one-on-one.

‘Lyde was kicking [Rhymer’s] butt in the first half,’ Flint said.

UMass wrestled back the lead thanks to the three-point sniper fire of Mack and senior point guard Jonathan DePina (a combined 4-of-8 from downtown in the first half). A perfect kickout from Micah Brand set up Winston Smith for an 11-foot jumper that gave the Minutemen a 30-23 cushion with 2:21 to go in the half.

Temple trimmed the halftime deficit to three, 33-30, on a right corner three-ball from Wesby. The Minutemen bumped their lead back up to seven, 45-38, over the first 8:55 of the second half behind threes from Mack and Ronell Blizzard.

AROUND THE RIM: The Maroon and White set the stage for its upset of the Owls by outlasting La Salle 62-58 at Tom Gola Arena Jan. 25. Mack connected for a team-high 23 points to counter a 30-point explosion from Explorer Rasual Butler. Crooks also provided some punch for the Minutemen with 12 points and a team-high four assists.

La Salle (7-11, 1-6 A-10) almost stole the game by scoring 12 straight points (including three straight three-balls from Butler) to take a 58-57 lead with 1:55 remaining.

But Mack nailed down the win by canning a pair of late jumpers, the second with 39 ticks remaining. The preseason A-10 Player of the Year moved into second place on the UMass all-time scoring list with 1,909 points in the process (leader Jim McCoy has 2,374 career points).

‘We came to Philly and we got two,’ Flint said. ‘There aren’t a lot of teams that are going to come in here and get two.’

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