ATLANTIC CITY – Temple’s Dionte Christmas scored 10 of his team’s final 11 points to lead the Owls to a 55-53 upset win over top-seeded Xavier in a semifinal game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
With the Owls trailing by 47-44, Christmas made a jumper a foul shot and a three-pointer during a 7-0 run that gave the Owls a 51-47 lead with 1 minute, 50 seconds remaining.
After two free throws by B.J. Raymond cut it to two, Christmas again drained a trey, this one from the left wing, for a 54-49 lead.
From there, the Owls closed it out and now will look for their second straight Atlantic 10 tournament title and the automatic NCAA Tournament game that comes with it. No team has repeated as the A-10 tourney champion since Temple did it in the 2000 and '01 seasons.
Temple awaits the winner of the Duquesne/Dayton game.
Christmas led the fourth-seeded Owls (21-11) with 20 points, while Lavoy Allen added 10 points and 11 rebounds. Derrick Brown led the 19th-ranked Musketeers (25-7) with 19 points and Raymond added 18.
“Obviously Dionte hit some huge shots,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. “Everybody had to play well for us in order to win the game."
Christmas was 1-for-10 from the field and scored only seven points in the Owls' semifinal win over Saint Joseph's on Thursday.
Xavier will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.