March 5, 2009
PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's fell to longtime city rival Temple (18-11; 10-5), 68-59, for the second time this year at the Liacouras Center, and the fourth straight game. The Hawks head into the regular-season finale at Fordham on Saturday with a 15-14 record, and an 8-7 mark in the Atlantic 10.
In a matchup of the A-10's top two Player of the Year candidates, SJU's Ahmad Nivins had 17 points and 16 rebounds while the Owls' Dionte Christmas scored 23 points.
Tasheed Carr added 22 points and five assists for the Hawks.
The teams traded single-digit leads throughout the first half, but Temple held the 30-23 edge at halftime.
Temple led 34-23 two minutes into the second half, but the Hawks scored nine straight points capped by a Nivins slam to trail by 34-32. Christmas and Craig Williams hit 3-pointers, igniting a 13-0 spurt and a 47-32 Temple edge with 11 minutes to go. Saint Joseph's closed to 52-45 with 4:29 remaining, but Christmas assisted on a Sergio Olmos layup, then hit a 3-pointer to put the game out of reach.
"The script stays the same. There are challenges for us offensively. Fifty-nine points and really 50 in the real part of the game. We tried to play a little bit faster and had it going but we missed layups and opportunities," said Hawk coach Phil Martelli. "You've got to have more of a presence in that game. We did a great job of getting after being awful coming out at halftime and then they pop out. You have to be exact and we weren't exact tonight."
Christmas and Nivins went into the game tied for the league's scoring lead at 19 points per game.
Nivins missed 10 shots in the game, the most all season.
The Hawks are out of the running for the bye in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, which runs from March 11-14 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.