PHILADELPHIA (03/03/02) - With the Atlantic 10 East Division title at stake, the Saint Joseph's Hawks (18-10, 12-4) and the Temple Owls (15-13, 12-4) played perhaps the best game in the 127-game history of the series between the two city-rivals. Never before had there been a double overtime contest, and only five times prior had the two teams played more than 40 minutes. But in a sweltering, standing room only Palestra, the coaches and players gave it everything they had for 50 long minutes. And in the end, in a game in which there were no losers, Temple walked off with the East title, claiming an 87-84 victory. "That was a terrific performance for the Atlantic 10, and a terrific performance for Philadelphia," stated Hawk coach Phil Martelli. "I do not think we lost, we just ran out of time." Senior guard Lynn Greer was the difference in this game, as he was in the first meeting, an 82-72 Temple win at the Liacouras Center on February 2. The Owl point guard tallied 36 points, 32 of them coming after intermission, and hit big shot after big shot down the stretch. First Greer engineered the Owls' comeback from a 16-point halftime deficit (41-25), and capped a 10-0 run with a three-pointer that gave Temple its first lead, 59-56 with 3:22 remaining. That started an incredible show by both teams as Na'im Crenshaw, who shook off his four-year Palestra jinx with 19 points, drained one of his five 3-pointers to knot the game at 59. Brian Polk immediately answered with a trey, which led to a Jameer Nelson three-pointer. That made the score 62-all with 1:54 remaining. David Hawkins (20 points) dropped in two free throws to give the Owls the lead back, albeit short-lived. Nelson, who had an amazing performance that included 17 points, a career-high tying 12 assists and just two turnovers, drilled another three, putting SJU back ahead, 65-64. Greer then drove the lane and was fouled by Crenshaw, his fifth of the game. An 87.2 percent shooter, Greer, who hit 18-of-18 in the first meeting, missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Owls had to foul three times before reaching the bonus and sending Tyrone Barley to the line. A 56 percent shooter from the charity stripe, the sophomore guard calmly netted them both, boosting the SJU lead to 67-64 with 17 seconds to play. The ball of course made its way into Greer's hands. Guarded tightly by Barley, Greer had trouble finding any room to manuever. As the clock wound down, he picked up his dribble from 25 feet, fought through Barley and another Hawk defender, and launched a long range bomb that tied the game with three seconds to play. "He stepped through (the defense) and the debate would have been to foul him, but their possession started with 15 seconds," Martelli expounded on the shot. "And I just said to Tyrone Barley, that you would have to have been Einstein to have realized that once you had him pivoting, that you could have fouled him." Temple jumped out quickly to a 72-67 lead to start the first extra frame as Greer nailed a three and Alex Wesby (18 points, 9 rebounds), a deuce. Hawk freshman Delonte West then took a beautiful feed from Bill Phillips (15 points, 7 rebounds) and laid it in. West then stripped Greer and took it all the way for a lay-up, cutting the margin to one, 72-71. Greer missed a jumper on the next possession, with West rebounding and getting fouled. He hit the first of two to tie the game. Kevin Lyde followed up a Polk miss, one of his game-high 14 rebounds, to give the Owls a 74-72 lead with 52 seconds on the clock. With the shotclock winding down, Nelson had his three-point attempt blocked by Wesby. He then fouled Wesby, who hit one of two from the line. Phillips, the A-10's leading three-point shooter, connected from his favorite spot, the top of the key, with six seconds left to force a second overtime. Again Temple got out quickly, scoring the period's first four points. Marvin O'Connor (21 points. 6 rebounds), who passed Mark Bass to become SJU's all-time three-point leader, drained his third of the game and 228th of his career, to cut the margin to one. Greer hit a jumper to make it a three-point spread, but Barley then took a feed from O'Connor under the basket and hit the lay-up and a free throw to make it even again at 81. A Hawkins jumper put Temple back in front, and then O'Connor hit one of two from the line to make it Temple-84, SJU-83. Wesby hit one free throw on the Owls next possession and Nelson converted two from the line for the Hawks to deadlock the game again, 84-84, with 18 seconds to play. Everyone in the building, and the countless watching on ABC around the country knew who was going to take the last shot. And it was Barley, the Hawks' top defender, assigned to shut down the Owls high-scoring guard. With Barley playing as tough a defense as he could, Greer took the ball to the left wing, slipped, recovered, and somehow managed to launch a shot with two seconds on the clock that made it through the hoop. Also fouled on he shot, he converted from the line for the 87-84 result. Phillip's long pass missed the mark for the Hawks' sixth turnover - a season low - on the day. "People keep looking for us to be hooked up to IVs and in intensive care," stated Martelli. "We are not. We are 18-10 because we deserve to be. Now we have a week left to go get what we want. These kids wanted that #1 seed. And ironically, before the game, I said, whatever it takes, it could take 40 or 45 (minutes), but I did not say 50." Up next for the Hawks, a Verizon Atlantic 10 Conference Quarterfinal date with the winner of the Dayton-Rhode Island first round game at the First Union Spectrum on Thursday at 2:00 p.m.
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