Instant Replay: Temple 82, La Salle 74

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Instant Replay: Temple 82, La Salle 74

BOX SCORE

So much for those one-point games.

Behind the best performance of senior forward Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson's college career, Temple cruised to an 82-74 win over La Salle at at the Liacouras Center Thursday night to claim a share of the Big 5 championship.

With both teams at 3-1 against the Big 5, Temple and La Salle will share the 2012-13 title. It's Temple's city-best 27th title dating back to 1955 and the third time in the last four seasons the Owls have won at least a share of the title.

For La Salle, it's just the first time the Explorers have won a share of the title since 1998. It would have been the program's first outright win since 1990, Lionel Simmons' senior year.

Instead, the Explorers fell to 18-7 overall and 8-4 in Atlantic 10 play, while Temple improved 18-8 and 7-5.

Turning point
What began as a tight game gave way to an 18-1 Temple run to close the first half, with the Owls ahead 39-25.

After leading 18-13, La Salle recorded just one field goal in the final 13 minutes of the half and one point in the final 7:54 on a Ramon Galloway foul shot with less than a minute remaining before the break. The Explorers opened 8 for 13 from the floor, and made only one of their next 15 attempts to finish the half 9 of 28 from the field and 2 of 9 from three.

Over the first five minutes of the second half, Temple actually stretched its lead to as much as 22 points. La Salle continued to chip away, cutting its deficit to as little as nine with 9:09 and 5:35 to play but never got any closer until the final buzzer. Sam Mills hit a three, Ramon Galloway stole the ball and hit a jumper as time expired to reduce the final margin to just eight.

B.M.O.C.
Hollis-Jefferson led all scorers and rebounders, setting two new career highs with 23 points and 17 rebounds for the fourth double-double of his college career. His nine field goals on 13 shots were also a season high.

In the race for the A-10 Player of the Year award, Temple's Khalif Wyatt bested Ramon Galloway with 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Galloway, by comparison, had no trouble getting to the rim, but just couldn't finish when he got there. He finished with an inefficient 14 points, going 7 of 9 from the line but a gross 3 of 14 from the floor.

Point guard Tyreek Duren led La Salle with 16 points.

Inside the box score
• Temple dominated the glass, out-rebounding La Salle 42-27 overall and 15-7 on the offensive end.

• Neither team shot well from three, going a combined 10 for 33.

• The Owls were also poor from the foul line, going 17 of 29 to La Salle's 15 of 19.

• Temple did, however, shoot 50 percent from the floor by game's end.

Next up
Both teams are off until Sunday afternoon. Temple will travel to Charlotte for a 4 p.m. meeting with the 49ers. Temple won the first meeting 89-88 at the Liacouras Center on Feb. 6. La Salle, meanwhile, heads north to Rhode Island for a 2 pm. tip with the Rams.

La Salle suffers demoralizing loss to struggling UMass

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La Salle suffers demoralizing loss to struggling UMass

AMHERST, Mass. -- Zach Lewis scored a career-high 37 points, including six three-pointers, and Massachusetts pulled away from La Salle 84-71 on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.

Lewis, whose 37-point effort was the best for any player in the Atlantic 10 this season, hit nine of his 16 field goal attempts overall and was a perfect 13-for-13 at the free throw line. Dejon Jarreau added 20 points and four three-ponters for UMass (14-15, 4-12).

Pookie Powell hit five 3-pointers and scored 24 points, and B.J. Johnson added 20 points to lead La Salle (14-13, 8-8).

Both teams shot similar percentages and had similar three-point totals, but the Minutemen finished with a plus-14 advantage at the free throw line.

La Salle remained within striking distance but a 13-4 stretch for UMass midway through the second half pushed its lead to 63-51. The Minutemen kept the Explorers at arm's length the rest of the way.

Eric Paschall's game rounding out when Villanova needs it most

Eric Paschall's game rounding out when Villanova needs it most

Those on the outside are now starting to see what those on the inside of Villanova basketball program have seen for the last year and a half.

Eric Paschall can play.

Paschall on Saturday had the biggest game of his career -- at least his Villanova career -- with 19 points, six rebounds and two steals in the Wildcats’ Big East-clinching win over Creighton at the Pavilion.

With Darryl Reynolds sidelined since early February with a rib injury, the Fordham transfer has been starting and playing at a high level. But he was at his best Saturday when his team needed him the most.

Paschall was essentially a guard at Fordham, but with Reynolds out and Omari Spellman forced to sit out the year, Paschall has been playing a lot of the 5 for Villanova, and against Creighton, he effectively neutralized 6-foot-11 Blue Jays center Justin Patton, who managed just four points -- 9½ below his average.

"He's getting better, that's the biggest thing," teammate Josh Hart said of Paschall. "He's down there battling with Patton, a 7-footer, he's down there battling with 6-10, 6-11 guys just about every night, and he's battling and battling and we just tell him, keep working like that. That's more important to us than him going out there scoring 20.

"We know he's talented enough to score 20, you saw that (Saturday), but the way he's battling and the way he's not being frustrated and just keeps getting better, for us that's the best part."

Paschall averaged 15.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game two years ago for the Rams, earning Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year honors.

He was one of only three NCAA Division I freshmen who averaged at least 15.9 points and 5½ rebounds per game. The others were D'Angelo Russell of Ohio State and Jahlil Okafor of Duke, who are both now double-digit scorers in the NBA.

But to play at Villanova, you have to play defense, and that's where Paschall has shown the most improvement.

"Eric is developing as a Villanova basketball player defensively in terms of executing far better than anyone knows," coach Jay Wright said. "We know. When he's in the game, we are executing at a high level. We're just starting to see what he can do offensively, but in our program, you've got to be able to (play defense) first and he's been doing that all year.

"(He's) getting better and better, and today you just saw a glimpse of what you'll probably see next year, but you've got to get the basics down first, which he's done an incredible job of this year. It's like I tell you with Dante (DiVincenzo), these guys play against him in practice, they're not surprised when they see him do that, but I know everybody else is because they don't get to see it all the time."

It's not easy to transfer into a new program and get used to new players, a new coach, a new system, a new philosophy.

"It was a process," Paschall said. "The biggest thing was getting used to what they wanted, and that's defense and rebounding. That took some getting used to, but once I understood what they were looking for from me and what they wanted me to do, that just made it easy.

"The guys welcomed me with open arms. It's a brotherhood here and we're all brothers and they made me feel like I was a part of it from Day 1. It can be hard sometimes as a transfer coming in, but they made it easy. It's just a matter of focusing on my job."

Overall, Paschall is averaging 7.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game and shooting 50 percent from the field in an average of 21 minutes a night. But during these last five starts, he's 21 for 32 from the field (66 percent) and is averaging 9.8 points per game.

"Eric, he came in knowing what coach wanted, knowing what coach’s philosophy is and how coach wants things, and he's come and in done what's expected," Jalen Brunson said.

'He's done a great job for us and we're extremely confident in him. It's hard coming in front a different school, coming in and learning a new system, learning the philosophy, but he's done a good job."

Paschall can play the 2 through the 5, so he gives Wright a lot of versatility.

His 19 points Saturday were his most as a Wildcat and his most in any game since he scored 21 for Fordham vs. George Mason on Feb. 18, 2015.

When asked about his role, he just pointed at Hart and Kris Jenkins.

"Just listen to these guys, making sure I have my head clear every game," he said. "They do a great job of telling me what to do during the games and having my attitude right during the games so I can just go out there play hard, play together, play smart, and that’s what I'm trying to do."

As thin as Villanova is -- Wright has played just six guys in his regular rotation since Reynolds got hurt -- Paschall has been a life-saver.

It's hard not to imagine how talented Villanova will be next year with Spellman, Paschall, Mikal Bridges, Phil Booth, Brunson and DiVincenzo.

But first, there's a game Saturday against Georgetown, the Big East Tournament in New York and then the NCAA Tournament.

"We see him getting better every day with his decision making," Hart said of Paschall. "Last year he definitely kicked our butt a lot when he was on the scout team.

"One thing we always had a question about was how was he going to fit in with just playing hard the way we play defense, and he's doing the best job, and he keeps getting better, and seeing him develop and seeing him grow has been amazing. Looking forward to seeing what he's going to do in the future."