Philly Teams at the Atlantic 10 Semifinals

Semifinal Saturday at the Atlantic 10 Tournament saw both Philadelphia teams go down to defeat as the Dayton Flyers held on to beat Saint Joseph’s, and the Richmond Spiders got the better of Temple.  Both teams were disappointed by the outcome.  For the Hawks it was a sign of what can happen in the future.  For the Owls it was the end of their “Boardwalk Empire.”  The loss did not mark the end of the season for Temple.  They can get their redemption sooner rather than later.

Dayton 64 Saint Joseph’s 61

Saint Joseph’s came into this game after a draining overtime win against Duquesne.  Early on it was evident that the team may not have had its legs, but the 12th seeded Hawks still had heart.  And it was almost enough to overcome the #9 seed.  On the previous day Dayton eliminated top seeded Xavier.

“We belonged in the game and certainly these guys gave us forty minutes of everything they had,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli.  “Some guys had more than others but based on the previous game, were playing on tired legs.”

Dayton controlled the game early leading 23 – 12 with 6:05 to play on the first half.  Saint Joseph’s began to chip away at the deficit.  A 12 – 5 run to halftime put the Hawks in contention trailing 28 – 24 at intermission.  In the second half the shots began to fall for the Hawks.  The Crimson and Grey shot 31% in the first half, then 54.5% in the second, and made 5 of 10 three-point shots.  Dayton got some separation leading by 11 with 5:33 remaining.  Saint Joseph’s began their comeback.  Freshman Center C.J. Aiken and Senior Forward Idris Hilliard keyed the run scoring 5 and 4 points.  The Hawks kept coming back, and with 9 seconds left to play two free throws by Freshman Guard Langston Galloway cut the gap to 63 – 61.  In the five minute stretch Saint Joseph’s made 4 of 5 field goal attempts.  Dayton turned the ball over twice, missed 4 shots, and committed 4 fouls.  However, Saint Joseph’s had turnovers as well.  With 1:51 to play Freshman Forward Ronald Roberts went up for a dunk that rimmed out.  Roberts went to the foul line for two shots, but missed both.  It was a big missed opportunity for Saint Joseph’s.  Still, they kept coming back.  The Hawks forced a turnover, and had the ball at half-court with 6 seconds to play.  Senior Guard Charoy Bentley inbounded down the sideline, but the ball got away giving the possession back to Dayton.  Forward Paul Williams sent a long pass down-court that was intercepted by Galloway with 2 seconds left.  Galloway turned, dribbled, and fired, but the shot was no good.  Dayton earned their trip to the final.

Galloway scored a team-high 16 points and had 9 rebounds.  Hilliard scored 15 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.  Sophomore Guard Carl Jones scored 11 points and handed out 5 assists.  Saint Joseph’s was only 10 – 17 from the foul line.

“If you shoot 10 for 17 in a semifinal from the foul line, you aren’t going to win,” said Martelli.

Dayton Forward Chris Johnson led all scorers with 19 points, and fellow front court mate Chris Wright had 17 points and 15 rebounds.

Saint Joseph’s completed the season with an 11 – 22 record.  The seniors, Bentley and Hilliard, finished their college careers.  However, the Hawks left their fans with a glimpse of what is to come for this team.

“We definitely can build on this one,” Galloway said.  “Getting to the semifinals, though, we definitely weren’t picked to get here.  We can build on this and try to get better.”

Saint Joseph’s had chances that they could not take advantage of, yet stayed in the game.  They were the first 12th seed to advance to the semifinals.  Their coach gave a succinct summarization of the game.

“At the end, if you shoot 10 for 17 in a semifinal from the foul line, you aren’t going to win,” said Martelli.  “Turn the ball over three times on out-of-bounds plays, on the baseline and once on the sideline at the very end. We were a play not good enough.”

Richmond 58 Temple 54

The Richmond defense held Temple to 35.1% shooting from the field and just 7 of 25 from beyond the arc as Richmond earned a trip to the championship final breaking Temple’s ten game winning streak at Boardwalk Hall.  The loss prevented Temple from getting their fourth straight Atlantic 10 title.  It was a disappointment for the team, but there is more that can be accomplished.

“There were a lot of sad faces in the locker room,” said Senior Forward Lavoy Allen. “We just have to put it behind us.  Whether we are in the NCAA Tournament or NIT or CBI, it doesn’t matter.  We’re just going to try and go out there and just win.  Doesn’t matter if we would have won the championship this year or not, we’re just going to play the same way.”

At the start of the game Temple looked like they were on their way to their fourth consecutive appearance in the finals.  With the game tied at 6 with just over fifteen minutes to play, Temple made three consecutive three-point shots by Freshman Guard Khalif Wyatt, Freshman Guard Aaron Brown, and Junior Guard Ramone Moore.  The flurry gave Temple a 15 – 8 lead at the 13:24 mark.  Later in the half a trey by Wyatt extended the Owl lead to 18 – 9 with 11:23 on the clock.  That would be Temple’s largest lead. Gradually Richmond fought back pulling to within one at halftime 31 – 30 on a three by Forward Justin Harper.

The Richmond defense forced Temple to 31% shooting (9 – 29) and limited the Owls to 2 of 13 from three-point land.  The Spiders grabbed a 53 – 47 lead on a layup by Harper with 7:21 to go.  Temple began their comeback going on 7 – 0 run, and regained a one-point lead on a layup by Moore with 5:02 to play.  However, Temple did not score for the remainder of the game. 

“I was proud that we went down a little bit and then came back, found a way to take a one-point lead with five minutes to go,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy.  “We had three or four possessions we were a bit hurried on.  Give Richmond credit for that.”

Richmond Guard Kevin Anderson scored a game-high 22 points, and Harper added 18.  For Temple Allen registered his fourth double-double in Atlantic 10 Championship history with 12 points and 10 rebounds.  Wyatt contributed 15 points.  However, the Richmond defense made it tough on the Temple shooters.  Moore scored 11 in the game making 4 of 12 from the field.  Fernandez scored 7 points and had a career-high 10 assists.  However, he made only 3 of 17 shots, 1 of 7 from deep.  Dunphy stood behind his players. 

“He had a couple of tough shots at the basket that I’m sure he would change if he could,” Dunphy said about the shooting of Fernandez.  “But 10 assists is very good and he is a terrific player.  We had opportunities to score a few times but we couldn’t get that done in the last five minutes.  But I’ll trust Juan Fernandez with the ball anytime.”

There will be more games for Temple.

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