Atlantic 10 Tournament roundup
Red-hot Temple ends Xavier's 16-game win streakPosted: Friday March 14, 2003 9:54 PM
Updated: Saturday March 15, 2003 12:37 AM
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- As thousands of Dayton fans cheered them on, Temple's long-armed defenders put the squeeze on David West and ended Xavier's 16-game winning streak.
The famed matchup zone was back to doing damage at tournament time.
Brian Polk scored 22 points and Temple's defense throttled the Atlantic 10's three-time player of the year Friday night, setting up a 63-57 victory over the 10th-ranked Musketeers in the conference tournament.
After a 3-11 start, the Owls (15-14) have gotten back to the tournament final by playing coach John Chaney's trademark defense with gusto.
"We were at rock bottom and knew it couldn't get any worse," said David Hawkins, who added 21 points. "We started getting on the same page and playing the way coach wanted us to play. Now we're playing John Chaney basketball."
Xavier (25-5) easily cracked open that matchup zone last Saturday in the final regular-season game, winning by 31 points. The Musketeers were hapless in the rematch -- 20 turnovers, 14 of them on steals by the Owls.
"They got 26 points off our turnovers," said West, who had 12 points and managed only seven shots. "That's not the way we play. We were forcing the ball into situations where guys just weren't open. We tried to do too much, to thread the needle too much."
West was held to only one shot in the first half, setting the tone. Last Saturday, Xavier was able to pass the ball inside, then back out for wide-open shots, and tied the school record by making 14 3-pointers.
There were no openings in the rematch, and the Musketeers got rattled as they sensed their school-record winning streak was in peril. Xavier hadn't lost since Jan. 7 against Richmond.
"I told them that it's a challenge now," coach Thad Matta said. "It's like Jan. 7. We'd gone a long time without losing a basketball game."
At the start of the season, Temple was wondering when it would win a basketball game. But the defense finally came together, and now the Owls are one win away from making the NCAA tournament.
"We play a tough schedule and we're always facing obstacles, and it has paid off for us for years," Chaney said.
Temple got just enough offense to go with that defense. Polk hit the biggest shots in the last five minutes, including a long-range 3-pointer that got the Owls up on their feet and celebrating on the bench, sensing the upset.
The Owls had the crowd on their side for their biggest win of the season. Xavier was the only team to beat Dayton on its home court this season, a loss that still sticks with the Flyers and their fans. Thousands of red-shirted Dayton fans chanted "Let's Go Temple!" during pregame introductions.
The fans were on their feet celebrating as Xavier missed three desperate 3-point attempts in the final minute.
"It wasn't like we were playing against 10,000 people," Hawkins said. "Xavier had their fans, and we had our fans and the Dayton fans pulling for us. It was kind of even. Them pulling for us let us know we had to go out and win."
Temple extended its defense and blanketed West inside, a move that worked beautifully. West got only one shot in the first half, and Xavier was forced to rush shots from way outside.
"I kept telling them the whole game: Stay tight, stick together," Chaney said. "We were in tight and when they tried to force the ball inside, we got a lot of steals."
Xavier took eight of its first 10 shots from behind the arc and made only two, an indication things would be much different than a week ago.
The Owls weren't much better, relying on Hawkins to carry a poor-shooting offense. He hit a 3-pointer and dunked off a drive to the basket to give the Owls a 17-11 lead that showed this game wouldn't be a blowout like the last one.
West finally got his first basket at 17:08 of the second half, but it was all Xavier could manage as Temple opened with an 11-2 run. Polk made a bank shot, a jumper and a 3-pointer over West's outstretched arm as Temple surged ahead 34-28.
The lead changed hands twice more before Temple took control with tight defense. Polk hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Xavier's 18th turnover set up Keith Butler's putback basket that put the Owls up 50-43 with 4:08 left.
Dayton 76, St. Joseph's 73DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- The Flyers needed every little bit of their home-court advantage to reach their first Atlantic 10 tournament title game.
D.J. Stelly converted a three-point play with 48 seconds left, and No. 22 Dayton withstood St. Joseph's remarkable second-half comeback to beat the 25th-ranked Hawks 76-73 on Friday night.
Dayton (23-5) will play Temple (15-14) for the championship Saturday on a court that has been very good to the Flyers all season. They've lost only once at UD Arena, where things seem to go their way in the final seconds.
They did once again against the Hawks.
Jameer Nelson scored a career-high 39 points and helped St. Joseph's (23-6) erase a 19-point deficit in the second half. His two free throws tied it at 71 with 1:53 to play.
Stelly's three-point play gave Dayton a 75-71 lead, and Nelson hit two more free throws to get the Hawks within a basket. The Flyers then held on with a bit of good fortune.
Nate Green rebounded a teammate's missed shot with 6.8 seconds and was fouled by Nelson, who went to the bench with his fifth. Green then made the second of his two shots for a 76-73 lead, and the officials made no call when 3-point specialist Pat Carroll was wrapped up by Stelly as he tried to get off a last-second shot from just beyond the arc.
Ramod Marshall had 15 points, leading four Dayton players in double figures. Nelson was 11-of-19 from the field and 14-of-16 on free throws, the best performance in an Atlantic 10 semifinal game.
The thousands of red-shirted Flyers fans who savored Temple's upset of No. 10 Xavier in the opening game were on their feet as Dayton pulled ahead by 19 early in the second half.
For the second night in a row, Dayton went soft on its home court after it got a big second-half lead. The Flyers were able to regroup rather easily against Rhode Island in the quarterfinals.
St. Joseph's was a different matter, with Nelson making the difference.
He scored 27 of the Hawks' first 49 points, and his two free throws with 3:31 left tied it at 69. St. Joseph's players jumped to their feet and raised their arms in the air when his second shot swished, sensing a chance for an amazing win.
It didn't work out that way, as the Flyers improved to 16-1 on their home court.
Dayton led most of the game, going ahead by nine midway through the first half. Nelson missed two free throws that could have put the Hawks up by one with 1:58 left, and Dayton hit three quick baskets for a 38-31 halftime lead.
The Flyers then appeared to take control by hitting their first five 3-point shots in the second half. Brooks Hall, who missed all three of his shots in the first half, hit one from the top of the key to start a 17-3 spurt that pushed the lead to 55-36.
Nelson scored six points in an 11-point spurt that gave the Hawks some hope, then had score more in a 14-1 run that tied the score at 69 and silenced the crowd.
Delonte West, the other half of St. Joseph's dangerous guard tandem, played only six minutes in the first half and missed both of his shots. West missed the last two regular season games because of a stress fracture in his lower right leg.
West got back into the game as St. Joseph's made its comeback
and scored twice off drives to get Dayton's lead down to single