UMass 15, Temple 0.That's the kind of sizzling run that changes games and puts top-seeded teams on the brink of an upset loss. In this case, it was Temple (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP).With the speedy Williams slicing his way down the lane toward 20 points and 10 assists, Massachusetts beat Temple 77-71 on Friday, advancing to the Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals and spoiling the Owls' bid for a fourth tournament title in five seasons.
Yes, UMass knocked off a top 25 Kansas team in 2008-09. But given the stakes, this was UMass' biggest win in coach Derek Kellogg's four seasons."Some people would think so," he said.The No. 1-seeded Owls (24-7) might feel that way on the long bus ride back to Philadelphia.Morgan scored 21 points for the eighth-seeded Minutemen (22-10), who used the dominant and shocking 15-0 spurt to open the second half, turning a 36-31 deficit into a 46-36 lead."When you're playing a top 25 team who's been here, and kind of done very well here, sometimes you're not exactly certain how things are going to work out," Kellogg said.He had little to worry about after halftime.UMass took control in the second half on a string of 3-pointers and Williams clinched it down the stretch from the free-throw line. Khalif Wyatt scored 15 points and Ramone Moore had 14 for the Owls (24-7). Temple won its first outright A-10 title since 1990, and will still be in the NCAA tournament field of 68.The game was another back-and-forth showdown in the second half, reminiscent of their last meeting, Temple's thrilling 90-88 overtime win on Feb. 29."Once we found out Temple was our first matchup, we just locked in and learned from our mistakes from last game," Williams said. "We just tried to move on from them."Knowing a tournament bid depended on winning the A-10, the Minutemen shook off a sluggish first half to outwork and outhustle Temple to start the second. Morgan, Raphiael Putney and Terrell Vinson all buried 3-pointers, and Williams' lob to Carter for an emphatic alley-oop made it 46-36.Even though the run pushed the momentum back toward UMass, the Owls didn't have another standout season because they fold in crunch time.Once Moore and Juan Fernandez shook off some cold shooting, the Owls got going and pulled back ahead of UMass. But Temple simply didn't have enough in the waning minutes.Moore connected on three straight 3-pointers and Fernandez hit a 3 to pull within 55-50. The Owls tried to win this one from the outside. But they did little to stop Williams and the Minutemen's speedy guards.Morgan and Javorn Ferrell hit back-to-back 3s for a 68-64 lead -- making the Minutemen a sizzling 9 of 16 from beyond the arc. Williams made 8 of 10 free throws and Morgan hit three 3-pointers.Williams made it a four-point game from the free-throw line after Temple pulled to within two with 28 seconds left.Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson scored 13 points for Temple and Fernandez had 12. Micheal Eric grabbed 11 rebounds to help Temple hold a 39-30 edge on the boards. But Temple hurt itself by committing 22 turnovers.Wyatt started on the bench for what the Owls called a recent "timing issue," and was replaced by T.J. DiLeo."We get down, we don't stay down," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "Hopefully, we use this an opportunity to play better basketball."