Temple withstands La Salle rally, wins in OT

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Temple withstands La Salle rally, wins in OT

BOX SCORE

In the waning moments of overtime, La Salle's Earl Pettis held the ball and watched the clock run before unleashing a three-point attempt with six seconds left.

The ball rattled off the back iron before finding itself in the hands of Explorer D.J. Peterson and then teammate Sam Mills, who hurled another three, as time expired, that also found the back of the rim before falling harmlessly to the floor.

And just like that, the Temple Owls -- who led by as much as 10 in the second half before finding themselves tied at the end of regulation -- escaped Tom Gola Arena on Tuesday night with a 80-79 win over the Explorers.

"It would have been poetic justice, to be honest with you, with the way Earl played, if that ball had gone in," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. "We just got lucky at the end.

"We just escaped."

The win was the Owls' 11th in a row, the most by a Temple team since 1999-2000, and advances them to 22-5 on the season and 11-2 in the Atlantic 10. La Salle (18-10, 7-6) has dropped four of its last five games.

Pettis finished with a career-high 33 points and scored 18 of his team's final 20 to lead all scorers on 11 of 21 shooting. So, when the time came for an Explorer to try to close the game, it was no surprise to anyone that Pettis was holding the ball, just inside the timeline, waiting to make his move.

"I was just looking to be aggressive, and whatever the defense gave me, I was going to try to make a play," Pettis said as his coach, Dr. John Giannini, nodded beside him.

Really, Giannini thought his team had it won twice.

"We were so close," Giannini said. "I thought both those shots were in. D.J. Peterson got a great rebound to get Sam Mills an extra look, and Sam's shot looked like it was in.

"We got two good shots. Both dead on, but just a little long."

On defense, the Owls knew what was coming -- it just came down to whether or not they could stop it.

"We pretty much knew Pettis was going to shoot it," said Temple's Khalif Wyatt, who led his team with 25 points. "It was us against them. It ended up me versus Pettis at the end. He got a pretty good shot off. I played pretty good defense and got a good contest. And... thank god he missed it.

"Then they got another opportunity in the corner, and Mills had as good of a shot, too. Thank god he missed it."

It was more than appropriate that the final possession came to down to a one-one-one matchup between Wyatt and Pettis, the game's two leading scorers who continually carried their teams over the last 25 minutes. Unfortunately for the Explorers, it was Wyatt, unlike Pettis, who was aided by sizable contributions teammates Ramone Moore and Micheal Eric.

Moore finished with 18 points and set a new season-high with nine rebounds. Eric, the Owls' 6-foot-10 center, tied a career-high with 18 points, added 12 rebounds and recorded another career-high with six blocks for his fourth double-double of the season.

"The biggest factor in the game was Micheal Eric," said Giannini. "I mean, those six blocks, and some of the shots he changed were everything. We made our share of shots except for shots at the rim. And that's Micheal Eric."

After an uneven first half that saw both teams make sizable runs and Temple up by three at the break, the Owls stretched their lead to eight on three separate occasions in the second, but could only watch as the Explorers drained repeated jumpers to storm back and go ahead, 50-49, with 11 minutes left.

That, luckily for Temple, is when Wyatt showed up. The junior guard scored 10 straight points on two threes, a dunk and a leaner to give Temple its largest lead to that point, 59-50.

But La Salle fought back once more and went on an 11-1 burst to close regulation tied at 71, after Wyatt, who admitted afterwards that he lost track of the game clock, got caught dribbling as time expired. Pettis was responsible for every point in the run.

Overtime seemed improbable given the Owls' 72 percent shooting on 13 for 18 field goals in the second half. But in spite of the loss, and in spite of his team giving up those shooting totals, Giannini had nothing but praise for both teams.

"I, like any coach, don't really have a problem with honest criticism," he said. "I've been in here and talked about games where we played good defense and games where we played bad defense. I'm sitting here, and looking at them shooting 72 percent in the second half, and I'm telling you, we were playing good defense. We were playing hard. They are amazing.

"They do two things. They get good shots and they make 'em. It's a good combination. We were defending as hard as we possibly could and they shot 72 percent. I would be happy to criticize ourselves, but I have to praise Temple.

"They're a pain in the butt."

The two teams were not without their flaws, however. Both Temple and La Salle had even assist-to-turnover ratios with 19 to 19 and 13 to 13, respectively. And even if Giannini was right about the effort of defense, it didn't change that fact that neither team could defend in the second half, as both shot over 50 percent from the floor.

Giannini was adamant after the game that the performance was in no way a "moral victory." Instead, he stressed how crucial a win could have been to his team.

"If we would have won it, because of Temple, where Temple is, it's the kind of game that could have gotten us into the postseason," Giannini said.

But now it appears as though the Explorers will have to win the Atlantic 10 tournament if they are to make the NCAA tournament. Temple, on the other hand, after Tuesday's win is on the verge of locking down a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

The victory also guaranteed the Owls at least a share of this year's Big 5 championship. They'll play Saint Joseph's on Saturday for the city title.

E-mail Nick Menta at nmenta@comcastsportsnet.com.

Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

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Baylor to fire football coach Briles, re-assign president

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University's board of regents said Thursday that it will fire football coach Art Briles and re-assign university President Kenneth Starr amid questions over the school's handling of sexual assault complaints against players.

The nation's largest Baptist university said in a statement Thursday that it had suspended Briles "with intent to terminate." Starr will leave the position of president on May 31, but the school says he will serve as chancellor.

The university also placed athletic director Ian McCaw on probation.

Baylor asked a law firm last year to conduct a review of its handling of sexual assault cases following allegations that the football program mishandled several cases of players attacking women.

The university's statement said the review revealed "a fundamental failure."

Baylor has faced increasing criticism in recent months for its handling of reports of rape and other violent incidents involving football players and students. One victim has sued the university, saying it was deliberately indifferent to her allegations against a former player who was eventually convicted of sexually assaulting her.

Starr ordered an investigation last year but has been mostly silent amid mounting criticism over the school's handling of the complaints, which erupted under his leadership. He took over as the university's president in 2010, about a decade after the former prosecutor investigated former President Clinton's sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewisnky.

The football team, whose players were at the center of the upheaval, enjoyed unprecedented success under Briles' tenure, including two Big 12 championships in the last three years. That success brought a financial windfall, and in 2014, Baylor opened a new, $250-million on-campus football stadium. But Briles' program has also been criticized for recruiting or accepting transfer players without regard to the harm they might cause fellow students.

Starr rode the waves of the program's success, and often ran on the football field with Baylor students in pregame ceremonies. But as investigations began into the school's handling of sexual assault allegations against players, Starr provided only brief comments, even as criticism of the school mounted.

In a February statement issued by university, Starr said "our hearts break for those whose lives are impacted by execrable acts of sexual violence." And at a prayer breakfast last month, Starr told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "I am in favor of transparency. Stand up, take your medicine if you made a mistake."

Baylor's Board of Regents was recently briefed by a law firm hired to investigate how the school responded to assault incidents, and the school on Thursday released a summary of its findings. Starr initiated the review in 2015, after former football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a female soccer player.

Ukwuachu, who was convicted in 2015, transferred to Baylor after he was dismissed from Boise State. Ukwuachu's former girlfriend testified during his rape trial in Texas that he had struck and choked her when he attended Boise State.

Ukwuachu's former coach, Chris Peterson, now the coach at Washington, said he "thoroughly apprised" Briles about the circumstances of Ukuwachu's dismissal. Briles disputed that account, saying he talked with Peterson and there was no mention of the incident.

The school is also facing a federal lawsuit from a former student claiming the school was "deliberately indifferent" to rape allegations levied at a former football player Tevin Elliott, who was convicted in 2014 of sexually assaulting the woman.

The uproar following Ukwuachu's conviction caused Baylor to initiate the review by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, and to announce a $5 million effort to improve efforts on how it responds to sexual assault, including adding another investigator and more staff.

But the Ukwuachu case was just the start of months of revelations of football players being involved in violent incidents with little or no repercussions. At least seven other woman have publicly come forward to say the school ignored their sexual assault allegations.

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Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova

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Josh Hart discusses NBA draft process, returning to Villanova

Josh Hart said the decision wasn’t easy.

But he’s happy with it.

After withdrawing his name from the NBA draft to return to school (see story), Hart is excited to focus on Villanova, graduation and then the NBA dream.

“I love the school, I love the teachers, the student body, the support, my teammates that we have coming back,” the 6-foot-5 guard said Wednesday on Comcast SportsNet’s Philly Sports Talk. “So it was a tough one and I just thought at the end of the day, I think going back for my senior year would be in the best interest of my parents and myself.”

As a junior, Hart helped Villanova win its second national championship in program history by leading the Wildcats in scoring with 15.5 points per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the field.

Hart received plenty of feedback from NBA teams. He said shooting and ball handling are what he hopes to improve.

As far as his draft stock …

“There were teams interested maybe in the first [round], and then there were teams that said they would take me in the second,” Hart said. “But there’s a whole month before the draft, a lot of teams didn’t know exactly what they were doing with their picks — whether they were trying to trade up for a pick, trying to trade down, trying to trade a pick for a player. Several teams said that they would take me.”

For more from Hart on the draft and Villanova, watch the video above.

Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

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Delaware hires Martin Ingelsby as new head basketball coach

Delaware has its new head basketball coach in Martin Ingelsby.

Ingelsby, a native of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, comes from Notre Dame, where he played from 1997-2001 and coached for 13 seasons, seven as an assistant.

Ingelsby played his high school ball at Archbishop Carroll and is the son of Tom Ingelsby, who played for Villanova from 1970-73.

Delaware is coming off a 7-23 season and 2-16 mark in CAA play, which led to the firing of head coach Monte Ross.

The Blue Hens, who announced the hire Tuesday, will formally introduce Ingelsby in a press conference Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Bob Carpenter Center Auditorium.