Temple 98, Massachusetts 89
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Temple is playing its best basketball at the end of the season.
Dionte Christmas scored 30 points and Temple led wire-to-wire in an impressive 98-89 victory over Atlantic 10 leader Massachusetts on Sunday.
Dustin Salisbery added 25 for Temple (11-12, 5-5 Atlantic 10) as the Owls won their fourth straight game. Mark Tyndale finished with 15 and Semaj Inge chipped in with 11.
“This was a really important win as far as the need to convince ourselves that we’re a good basketball team,” Owls coach Fran Dunphy said. “Each step along the way is another recognition of that, and this one was a big one.”
Temple has become a very good offensive basketball team. The victory, coupled with a 109-70 win over St. Bonaventure on Wednesday, helped the Owls set a school record with 207 points in consecutive games.
The Owls have averaged 93.6 points in their last five games.
“Give (Temple) all the credit,” UMass coach Travis Ford said. “I can’t sit here and say we played bad. Temple just really outplayed us. They were very good today and Christmas is as good a player as there is in the league. They just made some great shots. We couldn’t guard them.”
Gary Forbes scored a career-high 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Massachusetts (17-7, 7-3), which dropped out of a first-place tie with Xavier atop the conference. Stephane Lasme added 17 for the Minutemen while Rashaun Freeman finished with 12.
Lasme, forced to defend the perimeter because of Temple’s four-guard offense, finished with just four rebounds and three blocked shots, well below his season averages.
“He’s the only guy in the (conference) that I’m scared of,” Tyndale said. “It seems like he changes my shot every time.”
Temple hit its first five shots and blew out to an early 12-2 lead, forcing Massachusetts to call a timeout less than three minutes into the game. That did nothing to stop the Owls’ momentum as Temple extended its lead to 30-10 on Salisbery’s 3-pointer with 9:55 left in the first half.
Massachusetts gradually worked its way back into the game by dominating the offensive glass. The Minutemen pulled down 13 offensive rebounds in the first half alone, with Rashaun Freeman’s putback helping UMass pull within 44-35 at halftime.
Ryan Brooks came off the bench and scored on three consecutive trips midway through the second half, while Christmas converted an acrobatic layup into a 3-point play that gave the Owls an 81-65 lead with 5:43 left.
Christmas, the A-10 scoring leader, reached 30 points for the fifth time in his last seven games.