TUCSON, Ariz. -- We all know the drill by know. Two Pennsylvania teams, both dying for an NCAA Tournament win, shipped out to Arizona to play a game whose starting time was in the late breakfast/early lunch part of the day (depending upon how late you stayed out the night before). The coaching staffs, full of competitive people who also happen to be personal friends, all carry the burden of their profession, the one where everyone tends to forget everything you do in the other 49 weeks of the year, so fixated are they on this.
Temple and Penn State, then.
And on this day, Temple coach Fran Dunphy finally broke through while Penn State's Ed DeChellis can only wonder. Penn State's Talor Battle tied the game at 64-64 with a 30-foot bomb with 14.2 seconds remaining in the second half. Then Juan Fernandez won it with a gutty, 18-foot desperation jump shot with 0.4 seconds left.
Temple 66, Penn State 64.
It was a game that defied easy description. The first half, neither team played very good defense and Temple led, 35-33. Fernandez had 17 at the half, carrying the Owls. Lavoy Allen had, uh, zero
The second half saw spurts of running, much of it up and down and ineffectual. Then, it really became a gut fight. The Owls still couldn’t get Allen going, and Fernandez cooled, so it was Ramon Moore who carried the offense in the second half. Allen didn’t get his first field goal until 2:14 left in the second half. He finished with three points. But Allen did have a huge block of a Battle layup that would have given Penn State the lead with about 35 seconds remaining.
Battle, the Penn State star guard, was quieted for a long stretch of the game by the Temple defense, often keyed by Khalif Wyatt. But he got free and did plenty. And he hit that bomb.
Temple gets the winner of San Diego State-Northern Colorado. Penn State gets weeks and months of what-ifs. Tough business. Brutal business.