Feb. 12, 2009
PHILADELPHIA --Saint Joseph's rally in the final minute fell short as city and conference rival Temple (14-9; 6-3) held on for a 61-59 victory at the soldout Palestra. Ahmad Nivins led the Hawks (14-9; 7-2) with 21 points.
Heading into the contest, SJU was in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10.
It was another down-to-the-wire finish in the long-standing series which has seen the past four meetings decided by a combined total of nine points.
The Hawks trailed 56-46 with :54 to play but were successful in sending Temple to the foul line as the Owls missed eight free throws in that final stretch. After Lavoy Allen made one of two with :20 to play, Tasheed Carr scored on a drivng layup at :13 to cut the deficit to 59-55. The Hawks immediately fouled Allen again, and he missed both at :13. SJU inbounded the ball and Temple fouled Garrett Williamson, who hit both free throws at :12 to pull the Hawks within 59-57. Freshman Juan Fernandez was the next Owl to the line and he missed the first before hitting the second to give TU a 60-57 cushion at :09. Williamson was fouled and made both shots at :06 to pull SJU within 60-59. Fernandez was sent to the line again and made only the second of two shots at :05 to provide the winning margin, as on its last chance, Carr tried a halfcourt shot with two seconds to play.
Saint Joseph's held the lead in the early going, by as much as 21-15, but saw Temple take control when a jumper by Sergio Olmos gave them a 22-21 lead with 3:32 to play. The Owls used an 18-0 run stretched over the first and second half to build a double-digit lead, while the Hawks missed 10 straight shots in the same span and went scoreless for almost nine minutes.
Saint Joseph's went on a short spurt to pull within 33-27 early in the second half, but saw Temple run its lead to 42-31 on a 3-pointer by Craig Williams with 12:35 to play. The Owls held a comfortable lead the rest of the way until the Hawks made their run in the final minute.
A-10 Player of the Year candidate Nivins ran his double-figure scoring streak to 35 games, but saw his double-double streak end at nine as he had six rebounds. The Hawks' backcourt combined to shoot 9-for-33 and the team went just 4-for-16 from 3-point range. Carr finished with 15 points and nine rebounds while Williamson had 10 points.
Dionte Christmas had 19 points and 11 rebounds for Temple while Semaj Inge chipped in 11.
Saint Joseph's was a perfect 15-for-15 from the foul line, led by seven from Nivins, while Temple went 7-for-18, all in the second half.
SJU has a quick turnaround and will play another city and conference rival when it takes on La Salle on Saturday at 2 p.m. at The Palestra.