UMass and Temple played 45 exhilarating minutes with big comebacks for both sides in the final minutes, as the Minutemen proved they could play with the Atlantic 10's best away from the friendly confines of the Mullins Center. In the end though, Khalif Wyatt, the conference's fourth leading scorer, was too much for the Minutemen to overcome.
Wyatt's layup with 16.1 seconds to go, broke an 88-88 tie and handed Temple (23-6, 12-3 A10) the number one overall seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, as the Owls defeated UMass (19-10, 8-7 A10) 90-88 at the Liacouras Center.
Sophomore point guard Chaz Williams had a huge game as he finished with 26 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and four steals and was a huge part of the Minutemen's 10-point rally in the final minutes of regulation. Forwards Raphiael Putney and Terrell Vinson both chipped in with 16 points apiece and Jesse Morgan added 15 points and five rebounds.
Wyatt led the Owls with 26 points, six assists and 17 made free throws. The junior guard connected on just 4-of-10 field goals but attempted 18 of Temple's 40 free throws. UMass on the other side, had just 10 opportunities from the charity stripe.
Senior center Michael Eric added a monster double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds and point guard Juan Fernandez added 15 points and four rebounds. Ramone Moore, the conference's leading scorer, was held to just 13 points on 5-of-19 shooting.
The contest went back-and-forth in the first half with UMass ultimately grabbing their largest lead (37-32) heading into the break. UMass' lead was shortlived though, as the Owls opened the second half on an 18-7 run to grab a slim advantage. The Minutemen would grab the lead back at 58-55 with over nine minutes to play but it was all Temple for the next seven minutes, as the Owls built a 77-67 lead.
That's when Williams and junior guard Freddie Riley took over for UMass. With two minutes remaining, Williams knocked down a 3-pointer, stole the inbound pass and hit a layup and then watched as Riley connected on his lone two made field goals of the game (3-pointers) to cut the deficit to 79-78. After Wyatt split a pair of free throws, his lone miss of the night, Putney put back a missed Williams layup to tie the game at 80. Temple's last possession came up empty, as Fernandez missed a three and Moore didn't have time to get another shot off before the buzzer.
UMass looked like they would run away with the game in the extra period, as they scored the first six points in the first 2:37.But two missed free throws, a turnover and a missed 3-pointer, allowed Temple to cut the deficit to 86-85 with 1:55 to play. Putney hit two free throws to extend the lead to 88-85 (1:12 to play), but Wyatt would prove to much.
Wyatt connected on a layup and was fouled by Putney, leading to an easy 3-point play for the Norristown, Pennyslvania native. After two missed shots by UMass, Wyatt hit a layup with 16 seconds to play and last-chance shots by Morgan and Maxie Esho both fell off the mark. Overall, Wyatt scored the final seven points of overtime for the Owls and outscored UMass 7-3 over the final 1:55.
The Minutemen will finish their regular season with a home contest against Rhode Island Saturday at 4 p.m. EDT. UMass will honor their lone senior, center Sean Carter, prior to the game as part of Senior Day. After Wednesday's action, the Minutemen are currently tied for sixth place in the conference with LaSalle and Dayton.