Temple advances to A-10 final

March 14, 2008 9:24:19 PM PDT
Reaching the championship game of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament was only half the thrill for Fran Dunphy and Temple. The other thrill is their opponent. The team they will have to beat to earn their first berth in the NCAA tournament since 2001 is Philadelphia archrival Saint Joseph's.

"What more could you ask for," Dunphy said. "We are going to play for the championship against our biggest rival. This is what it is about."

Second-seeded Temple (20-12) rode Mark Tyndale to the title game on Friday night. The senior guard had 20 points and 15 rebounds in a 60-45 win over Charlotte.

"It feels good to get a chance to go to the (NCAA) tournament," said Tyndale, who was 7 of 11 from the field, including 2 of 3 from long range. "It can't feel no better."

Temple and Saint Joseph's split two games this season, with each winning by a point. Temple took the most recent game 57-56 on March 2.

Fifth-seeded Joseph's (21-11) stunned top-seeded Xavier 61-53 in the first semifinal at Boardwalk Hall in this casino resort.

"A couple of kids on St. Joe's team stopped and said something to me over the last couple of days, something like: 'Let's play for the final.' I think that's the respect both programs have for one another. This is phenomenal for Philadelphia and great for Atlantic City," Dunphy said.

Chris Clark added 13 points for Temple, which never trailed in winning its sixth straight game.

"We know Saint Joseph's as well as any team in the country, and vice versa," Dunphy said. "It's going to be guys stepping up and making shots. Hopefully, it will be a great game."

Leemire Goldwire had 18 points and Lamont Mack 11 for Charlotte (20-13), which rallied from an 18-point deficit to upset third-seeded Massachusetts in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.

The 49ers tried to stage another comeback on Friday after falling behind 36-21 with 17:30 to play.

Charlotte chipped away at the lead over the next 10 minutes and got to within 44-39 on a 3-pointer by Goldwire.

However, Ryan Brooks hit a jumper to ignite an 11-3 spurt that put the game away. Tyndale had a 3-pointer in the run that saw Charlotte miss five straight shots and turn the ball over once in seeing its five-game winning streak snapped.

"We tried," Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said. "Our guys gave it everything they had. We had three games in three days. Maybe we got a little fatigued. We tried to fight back but Temple just closed out the game."