Their House: SJU Claims Share of Big 5 Championship with Win over Temple

Their House: SJU Claims Share of Big 5 Championship with Win over Temple

The SJU athletic department made a specific point to play more of the university's basketball games at the Hagan Arena this season. They dragged both Temple and Villanova to the Fieldhouse. That decision appears to have paid off.

With their 82-72 win over the Temple Owls on Saturday night, Saint Joseph's walked off the floor in its final home game of the season with a share of the 2012 Big 5 Title. They will share that championship with the Owls.

The SJU victory snaps two Temple streaks. First, Temple's 11 game win streak in 2012 has come to an end. Second, the Owls' 10 consecutive wins over SJU is now but a 10-1 record in the teams' last 11 meetings. It is the first Saint Joseph's win over Temple since Jan. 26, 2008.

Saint Joseph's win moves the team to 19-11 overall and 9-6 in the Atlantic 10. Temple's loss, meanwhile, drops the Owls to 22-6 and 11-3.

Our (becoming trademark) college basketball assorted notes wrap featuring game notes, postseason scenarios and student rollouts after the jump...

Game Notes
-- Saint Joseph's Langston Galloway led all scorers with 22 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field and 4 for 6 shooting from three. He offered the SJU home crowd at the Hagan Arena an exaggerated fist pump after his first made jumper of the game. He was locked in from that point on and made dagger after dagger to either stretch his team's lead or keep the Owls at bay.

-- Just as in their first meeting earlier this season, the Temple Owls had absolutely no answer for SJU power forward Ronald Roberts. Coming off the bench, Roberts scored 12 points in 14 minutes in the first half and finished with 18 points and 7 assists. He was absolutely frightening every time he attacked the basket. Roberts is by no means the best player in the city, but he might very well be the single most entertaining, especially against a Temple team who apparently has zero answer for how to guard him.

-- Similarly, Halil Kanacevic, who we expected to be much more of a factor Game 1 at the Apollo, finished with a 14 and 12 double-double. He spent the final five minutes of the game unleashing primal screams in the direction of the SJU student section. He got every meaningful rebound down the stretch and iced the game for all intents and purposes with 3:50 remaining. With SJU up 73-65, Roberts missed two foul shots that could have swung some momentum Temple's way had it not been for Kanacevic grabbing the rebound, getting fouled and making both attempts. After a C.J. Aiken block on one of Temple's signature weak drives to the basket in the final 10 minutes, Kanacevic was there to tip-in a Carl Jones miss and put the Hawks up 10. He back-pedaled down the court (again) screaming at the fans. It was over.

-- In the end, Kanacevic and Roberts on the block were important than Galloway's shooting.

-- Also, Chris Wilson banged a three with 9:42 remaining. That should have been a sign.

-- For Temple, it was all about the fouls. Five Owls -- Juan Fernandez, Khalif Wyatt, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, Micheal Eric, Anthony Lee -- finished with four personals. The team tied its season-high for infractions. Fernandez picked up his fourth with more than five minutes remaining that necessitated a prolonged, ineffective offense-defense sub package. The freshman Lee had an especially difficult night, channeling Moses Malone in the worst way possible. He finished with 4 points and 4 fouls in 4 minutes.

-- While we're on the subject, though the officiating didn't cost Temple the game nor hand SJU the win, it did hurt the flow. The contest was physical and it was intended to be from the opening tip. Fouls were inevitable, but it makes little sense to choose to call the ticky-tack hand checks when the guys mauling each other under the basket will force the officials to blow their whistles. Make it two consecutive Big 5 games where the referees tried to assert themselves early, lost control of the game, and spent the remainder of their time mucking up what was left. Again, they didn't hand or cost anyone anything, but they had an impact. That, in and of itself, is bad enough.

-- On the score sheet, Hollis-Jefferson tied Moore for a team-high 15 points. Temple's bigs -- with the exception of the (through no fault of his own) overwhelmed Lee -- came to play, while the guards simply failed to perform at the level they needed to. See, the beauty of Temple's three-headed monster in the backcourt is that if one of them underperforms, another will pick up the slack. Really, since losing Dionte Christmas three seasons ago, that's been Temple's M.O. They don't have "one guy." They have "a number of guys." Unfortunately for the Owls, they always run into a few games a year where that balance actually works against them to the point where everyone slumps. That happened tonight. Wyatt shot 3 for 8 and Fernandez 1 of 7.

-- Juan Fernandez had not taken (by our eye) one his trademark ill-advised one-handed-scoop drives to the basket in probably five or six games. He did it on Temple's first possession Saturday. Like Wilson's three, this should have been a sign.

-- Getting back to the Temple bigs fighting like hell, Micheal Eric posted his fifth double-double of the season with 14 and 14. He appeared as upset with the Hagan Arena's rims as Mr. Roberts. Despite the loss, Hollis-Jefferson and Eric should be commended for their efforts in both assaulting Aiken on the block and for banging bodies with Roberts and Kanacevic under the glass.

Postseason Scenarios
-- With a win over St. Bonaventure this coming Wednesday, SJU will clinch a first-round bye and an automatic trip to Atlantic City.

-- With a win over Massachusetts this coming Wednesday, Temple will clinch the A-10 regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. 

The Environment / Your Mandatory Rollout Recap

Temple Rollouts
1. This is Hawk BasketbaLLLLLLLLLLL?
2. SJU students, enjoying your assigned seats?
3. I Thought they taught penmanship at catholic schools.
4. CJ, transfer to Nova: All you can do is block

SJU Rollouts

1. 54th Airborne Pops the Cherry Crusade
2. SJU taxes subsidize TU football
3. Sugar Daddies pay ][uition (ed note: If you don't get it, click here)
4. Temple's Dance Team: Discounted on SeekingArrangement.com
5. Juan, you know we don't speak Spanish
6. The Hawk Will Never Die

Amusing SJU Cheers
1. Musically: "You walked, you traveled, you took many steps"
2. To Owls at the line after missed free throws: "You let the whole team down"
3. Some guy sitting two rows behind Tony DiLeo screamed "WHO'S YOUR DADDY!?" to T.J. DiLeo while he was at the line. It was highly amusing.

While traffic (both in and around the building) is an absolute nightmare, the SJU Fieldhouse is a special place. The Hawks would be well served to keep playing in the Hagan Arena. 

It's tiny. It's congested. There's too many people. There's not enough room. 

In other words, it's everything too many big conference schools will never experience. In other other words, it's awesome. These thoughts extend to the Gola. The Temple kids can chant "high school gym" all they want. I, frankly, never saw any problem with high school gyms.

NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors fight off elimination

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NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors fight off elimination

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry scored 31 points, raising his arms in the early moments to awaken Golden State's raucous crowd, and the defending champion Warriors staved off elimination with a 120-111 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

The MVP made a snazzy layup late and dished out six assists, while Klay Thompson added 27 points as Golden State sent the best the best-of-seven series back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Saturday night. Golden State trails 3-2 and is trying to become just the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit.

"We're not going home! We're not going home!" Curry yelled at the top of his lungs in the waning moments.

Kevin Durant scored 40 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals for the Thunder, trying for the fifth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history and chasing just the second championship after the 1978-79 Seattle SuperSonics won it all.

The record-setting, 73-win Warriors, coming off their first back-to-back defeats all season, had been blown out in two losses at Oklahoma City by a combined 52 points.

Durant's 3-pointer with 4:34 left got the Thunder within 103-98, then Curry answered with a three-point play.

Curry scored seven points in a 58-second stretch of the second quarter, but the Thunder didn't go away easily.

Trailing 58-50 at halftime, Oklahoma City came out of the break with a 9-2 run. Westbrook's 3-pointer with 6:06 left in the third put Oklahoma City ahead 68-67 for its first lead of the night. But Golden State led 81-77 going into the fourth and began the final period by scoring five unanswered points.

Curry shot 9 for 20 and also had five steals, while Thompson had his 11th 20-point game for the second straight postseason despite shooting 2 for 9 from 3-point range. Draymond Green had 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Steve Kerr thought his Warriors might have an edge against the percentages of teams having trailed 3-1 because they're the defending champs and were playing at home, where they have been nearly unbeatable.

Kerr called for center Andrew Bogut to do more and the 7-footer delivered with a playoff career-high 15 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double this postseason and seventh of his career.

Marreese Speights had a pair of three-point plays on follow shots and a 3 in the second quarter to give Golden State a nice lift off the bench. He had nine points in four minutes during that stretch and 14 points overall for his fifth double-digit scoring game this postseason.

With his 1,248th career postseason point in the third, Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain (1,246) for second place on the franchise's playoff scoring list.

Kerr's message
Coach of the Year Kerr sent a message to Warriors fans Wednesday on social media requesting they arrive on time Thursday and bring their best.

The always-raucous supporters obliged.

"It's a big game. We need our crowd behind us," Kerr said beforehand. "We know they'll be here, and the 6 o'clock start makes things difficult for a lot of people to get here on time. So the first couple games we had a pretty late-arriving crowd. So it's kind of a reminder to be here early, if possible."

Tip-ins
Thunder: The franchise lost in the finals in 1977-78, 1995-96 to Kerr and the Chicago Bulls and in `12. ... Steven Adams sat down with his second foul at the 9:34 mark of the first quarter. The Thunder had seven fouls to Golden State's one after the first. ... Oklahoma City took Game 1 at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors have lost only three times all season. ... The Thunder started the game 3 for 14.

Warriors: Green picked up his fifth technical of the postseason. He also has at least one steal in 16 straight playoff games. ... Golden State missed six of its first seven 3s. ... The Warriors supported Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager with "Sager Strong" T-shirts for sale to support awareness and research for leukemia and lymphoma, both blood cancers. ... Curry became the fifth player in franchise history with 200 postseason free throws.

Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez strikes out 12 in Marlins' win over Rays

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Best of MLB: Jose Fernandez strikes out 12 in Marlins' win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jose Fernandez struck out 12 in seven innings Thursday and won his sixth straight start for the Miami Marlins, a 9-1 decision over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Fernandez (7-2) struck out eight of the last 10 batters he faced and struck out every hitter in the Rays lineup at least once. The 23-year-old right-hander from Tampa gave up six hits in beating his hometown Rays for the first time in three tries. He finished the game with 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings, highest among major league starters.

Adeiny Hechavarria and Chris Johnson homered for the Marlins, who won three of four in their annual series against the Rays.

Hechavarria's third home run drove in the final two runs of a three-run second inning off Rays starter Drew Smyly. Johnson made it 5-0 with his second homer an inning later, Johnson's first hit in 22 interleague at bats (see full recap).

Rockies silence Red Sox, Bradley's hit streak
BOSTON -- Carlos Gonzalez, Trevor Story and Dustin Garneau hit two-run homers and the Colorado Rockies stopped Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 29-game hitting streak with a 8-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

The win ended a three-game losing streak by Colorado and it ended a four-game winning streak for the Red Sox. Bradley's major league-best streak was halted when he went 0 for 4 after moving up to the leadoff spot for the first time this season.

Jon Gray (2-2) gave up a two-run home run to David Ortiz in the first, but pitched six scoreless innings before leaving in the eighth.

Clay Buchholz (2-5) took the loss. He pitched three perfect innings before things came apart in the fourth, when he gave up Gonzalez's homer with the other two coming the following inning (see full recap).

Happ leads Blue Jays past Yankees
NEW YORK -- J.A. Happ pitched seven strong innings, Edwin Encarnacion and Devon Travis had two-out RBIs, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-1 on Thursday to win the three-game series.

CC Sabathia was the tough-luck loser for New York, allowing just two unearned runs. Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his first game since going on the disabled list May 4 with a strained right hamstring.

Happ (6-2) allowed one run on three hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and three walks. He has given up three earned runs or fewer in 19 of his last 20 starts.

Sabathia (3-3) retired the first seven batters before an error by shortstop Didi Gregorius on Travis' grounder with one out in the third (see full recap).

NHL Playoffs: Penguins back in Cup Final for first time since 2009

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NHL Playoffs: Penguins back in Cup Final for first time since 2009

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Rust scored a pair of second-period goals and Matt Murray stopped 16 shots to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday night to send the franchise to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2009.

Pittsburgh will host Western Conference champion San Jose in Game 1 of the final Monday night.

Jonathan Drouin scored his fifth goal of the playoffs for the Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves, but it wasn't enough to send Tampa Bay back to the Cup Final for a second straight year. Captain Steven Stamkos had two shots in his return from a two-month layoff while dealing with a blood clot.

The Penguins avoided elimination with a borderline dominant 5-2 victory in Game 6 that provided a snapshot of the formula that fueled their rise through the Eastern Conference standings shortly after coach Mike Sullivan's arrival in mid-December. Sullivan calls it "playing the right way," a way abetted by the influx of speed brought in by general manager Jim Rutherford. That group includes Rust, who forced his way onto the roster thanks to feverish skating and a relentlessness that belies his nondescript 5-foot-11 frame.

That effort -- or "desperation level" as captain Sidney Crosby calls it -- provided the Penguins with the boost they needed to overcome a bit of unfortunate history and the return of Stamkos. Pittsburgh had dropped five straight Game 7s at home, including a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay in 2011 in a series in which both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin missed due to injury. That loss had become symbolic of the franchise's postseason shortcomings following that gritty run to the Cup in 2009 that culminated with a Game 7 win in Detroit that was supposed to be the launching pad of a dynasty.

Seven long years later, with an entirely new cast around mainstays Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz and Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins are finally heading back.

It hardly came easy. Vasilevskiy, a revelation while filling in for injured Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop, spent most of the night facing barrage after barrage as Pittsburgh controlled the puck and the pace of play for long stretches. Not even the return of Stamkos, who missed eight weeks while recovering from surgery to fix a blood clot near his right collarbone, could give Tampa Bay a boost as it sought a second straight appearance in the final round.

The 26-year-old practically chased Vasilevskiy onto the ice and played 11:55, his best chance coming on a breakaway in the second period in which his slap shot from the right circle hit Murray and trickled wide.

Yet he was outshone -- as was everyone else inside an electric Consol Energy Center -- by a 24-year-old who managed all of five goals in 55 regular season games, a total he's matched in just 17 games during the postseason. And perhaps even more surprising than the amount of success Rust has enjoyed during the playoffs is when he's done the most damage. He collected two goals and an assist in a series closeout win over the New York Rangers in the opening round.

Just over a month later, Rust was at it again.

He gave the Penguins the lead 1:55 into the second when he raced down the slot, took a feed from Kunitz and beat Vasilevskiy over his glove. Drouin's fourth goal of the series tied it at 9:36 of the second, a wicked wrist shot from the circle that zipped by Murray and seemed to blunt Pittsburgh's momentum.

Only it didn't.

All of 30 seconds later, the Penguins were back in front. Ben Lovejoy's slap shot from the point caromed off the end boards to the right of the net. Rust jabbed at it, squeezing it between Vasilevskiy's left arm and his body.

The Penguins kept coming. Only the spectacular play of the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy kept the Lightning in it. Pittsburgh outshot Tampa Bay 21-5 in the second period alone, yet couldn't extend its advantage.

Their season on the brink, the Lightning recovered but Murray never wavered. His teammates in front of him kept Tampa Bay from getting in his way and when the final horn blared, Pittsburgh's metamorphosis from the blahs of December to the madness of May was complete.

Notes
The Penguins went 0 for 5 on the power play. The Lightning were 0 for 1. ... The team that scores first is now 124-42 all-time in Game 7s, including 5-0 this year.