Temple wins 3rd straight Atlantic 10 title
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - March 14, 2010 -- It's like old times in the Atlantic 10, Temple is once again the conference champion.
Ryan Brooks hit four free throws over the final 50 seconds and the top-seeded and 17th-ranked Owls won their third straight conference tournament title, holding off a gutty rally by Richmond for a 56-52 victory in the championship game on Sunday.
Tournament MVP Juan Fernandez scored 18 points and Brooks and Ramone Moore finished with 12 each for Temple (29-5), which earned a third straight automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and its ninth conference title.
Picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll, Temple players hugged at halfcourt and jogged around the around high-fiving fans with Fernandez carrying the flag of Argentina.
Richmond had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds but David Gonzalvez missed a 3-pointer with 7 seconds to play. The third-seeded Spiders (26-8) are likely to get an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
Kevin Anderson, the conference player of the year, stepped up late for Richmond and scored nine of his 14 points in the final 7:06 to help the Spiders rally from a 12-point deficit.
Justin Harper and Ryan Butler added 10 points apiece and Gonzalvez had nine, going 1 of 5 from long range.
Temple seemed to be in control after Brooks scored eight straight points early in the second half. He capped the run with a 3-pointer that put the Owls ahead 44-32 with 12 minutes play. The Owls then tried to milk the clock the rest of the game and it very nearly cost them their 10th straight win.
Temple did not score a field goal over the final 6:32, with the final eight points coming from the free throw line.
A layup by Butler and a three-point play by Anderson got Richmond within 49-46 with 4:02 to go and Gonzalvez could have narrowed the lead at 3:32 when he missed the front end of an 1-and-1.
A rebound follow by Anderson closed the gap to 49-48 with 1:17 to play, but Brooks was fouled on the next possession and made both ends of the 1-and-1 for a 51-48 lead with 50.3 seconds to play.
Anderson cut the margin to a point with a drive down the left side of the lane with 39.2 seconds left, but Brooks was fouled and he again made two free throws with 22.1 seconds to go for a 53-50 lead.
Gonzalvez had his shot to tie the game but it hit off the rim and Moore iced the title.
Temple got off to another quick start, hitting its first three shots and scoring the first seven points. Fernandez ended the run with a 3-pointer.
Richmond tied the game at 15-all on a short turnaround jumper by Harper with 8:34 to go.
Moore, the conference's sixth man of the year, put Temple right back in front with two 3-pointers. The Owls led 29-25 at halftime. The biggest cheer of the half came from the Temple fans with 1:10 to play when the officials called their first foul on Richmond. Six fouls were called the entire half, four on the Owls.
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