Temple outlasts La Salle, 84-75

March 13, 2008 8:45:44 PM PDT
Temple is going to the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament semifinal for the 23rd time in large part because Chris Carter got a lucky bounce or two on the biggest shot of the game. Clark scored six straight points and Temple tallied the final 11 points in an 84-75 victory over La Salle in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament on Thursday night.

No shot was more crucial than Clark's 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and the second-seeded Owls (19-12) clinging to a 77-75 lead that Clark had provided with two free throws with 1:35 to go.

"In the first half I had a shot with the shot clock going down and I missed," said Clark, who finished with 12 points. "In the second half I had a shot with the shot clock running down and missed. The third time I saw the clock going down I felt it had to fall for me."

This shot was remarkable. The ball hit the rim, bounced up, hit the rim again and bounced in for an 80-75 lead.

"The shot hit every part of the rim," Clark said. "I just shot the ball with confidence and it went in."

La Salle never recovered.

"He took an NBA 3 and it bounced twice on the rim and went in," said Rodney Green, who had 20 points as seventh-seeded La Salle finished its season at 15-17.

Dionte Christmas had a game-high 29 points and Mark Tyndale and Sergio Olmos added 14 apiece as Temple won a season-high fifth straight game despite squandering a 14-point second-half lead.

The Owls will play sixth-seeded Charlotte, which rallied in the second half to beat third-seeded Massachusetts 69-65, in Friday's semifinal round.

"We feel very fortunate to have won the game," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "There was a stretch in the second half where we were in big trouble."

Darnell Harris added 18 points and Yves Mekongo Mbala had 16 for the Explorers, who were routed by Temple last weekend.

This one turned into a great game.

The Owls, who also got 10 rebounds from Tyndale, seemed to be in control after Christmas hit two free throws for a 73-67 lead with 4:37 to play.

However, Harris hit two free throws and a 3-pointer to start and end an 8-0 run that gave La Salle a 75-73 lead.

Olmos scored on a pick-and-roll layup to tie the game, but he failed to convert the three-point play after being fouled with 1:57 to go.

Harris then missed a 3-pointer at the other end and Clark was fouled going for the rebound. He converted both shots to put Temple ahead 77-75.

After Yves Mekongo Mbala was called for walking, Clark hit his monster 3-pointer.

Clark made 1 of 2 free throws after Mekongo Mbala aired a 3-pointer, and Christmas converted two more free throws after Harris missed another 3-pointer.

Temple scored the first eight points and 11 of 13 in getting a quick jump on La Salle. The Owls led by eight at the half, increased the margin to 14 early in the second half and were leading 59-48 after a free throw by Christmas with 12:38 to play.

La Salle, which struggled to beat Duquesne in the first round on Wednesday night, went on a 15-2 spurt that featured 3-pointers by Harris, Mekongo Mbala and Ruben Guillandeaux and six points by Green.

There were five more lead changes down the stretch with Clark providing the final one.