Temple's seniors walked onto the court for their final home game accompanied by family members.
As the announcer at the Liacouras Center listed the players' accomplishments before Wednesday night's game, coach Fran Dunphy greeted each with a framed jersey at center court. Pictures were taken. Memories relived.
It was a festive pregame atmosphere on senior night. Then, despite being an 18-point underdog, Massachusetts nearly ruined the party.
After honoring seniors Ramone Moore, Juan Fernandez, and Jake Godino and graduate student Micheal Eric, the 23d-ranked Owls had to go to overtime before escaping with a 90-88, Atlantic Ten victory.
"Ah, man, we were really nervous, especially with Chaz Williams," Eric said of the point guard who nearly had a triple-double against Temple. "He put us on our heels and made us play uncharacteristic basketball."
After playing in what could have been a track meet, the Owls (23-6, 12-3 A-10) clinched at least a share of their second A-10 regular-season title in three seasons. Due to a tiebreaker, Temple also gets the No. 1 seed in next week's conference tournament.
The Owls also avoided back-to-back losses for the first time since losing to La Salle and Dayton in 2009.
The Minutemen (19-10, 8-7), on the other hand, have lost four of their last five games.
The Temple seniors can thank Khalif Wyatt for the victory. After scoring Temple's final seven points in overtime, the junior guard finished with a team-high 26 points. His layup with 16.4 seconds left gave the Owls a 90-88 advantage. And the Norristown High product's 17 made foul shots are second only to the 18 Lynn Greer made against St. Joseph's in 2002 on Temple's single-game list.
"It was huge to get the win," said Wyatt, who also had six assists and three steals. "Not just for the seniors tonight but coming off a loss [Saturday to St. Joe's] and to bounce back and show that we were a tough team and that Saturday didn't represent us very well."
But thanks to Williams, UMass had Temple on the ropes. Pushing the tempo, the 5-foot-9 redshirt sophomore was unstoppable at times. Williams made 5 of 7 three-pointers to finish with 26 points. He also had game highs of 11 assists and four steals to go with eight rebounds.
The Minutemen scored the first six points of the extra session. But Wyatt's pair of foul shots pulled Temple to within 86-85 with 1 minute, 58 seconds to play.
After UMass extended its lead to three points, Wyatt knotted the score with a three-point play with 58.9 seconds left. Then, after Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson blocked a jump shot by UMass' Maxie Esho, Wyatt got the ball at midcourt. After nearing losing the ball, he scored the go-ahead wide-open layup with 16.4 left.
Eric scored all 19 of his career-high points after intermission. He also finished with 15 rebounds.