By Sean Kennedy
Temple 66, South Florida 65
Down one in the closing seconds, Quenton DeCosey’s shot at the buzzer found the bottom of the net, completing a tremendous Temple comeback and giving the Owls their first winning streak since early December. Down 18 in the second half, the Owls came charging back as Dalton Pepper had 15 of his team-high 20 points after halftime. DeCosey added 18 points and Will Cummings chipped in with 14 points and 8 assists, but more encouragingly, Temple had one of its better defensive performances on the year, holding the Bulls below 40% shooting. The Owls will need to maintain that defensive intensity when they face UCF in the first round of the AAC tournament Wednesday night.
Villanova 77, Georgetown 59
The Wildcats set a school record with their 16th win in the Big East, as they easily dispatched the Hoyas in a game they never trailed. Darrun Hilliard continued his recent scoring surge as he recorded team-highs with 19 points on 7-11 shooting and 5 assists. JayVaughn Pinkston added 13 points on 5-6 shooting and a team-high 7 rebounds. With Kansas losing earlier in the day Saturday, the Wildcats could find themselves eventually sliding into a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. First though, they’ll have to take care of business in the Big East tournament, starting Thursday against the winner of the Seton Hall-Butler game.
Northeastern 90, Drexel 81
The Dragons’ season may have come to an end, as the efforts of their talented senior backcourt were not enough to overcome an early hole in the CAA quarterfinals. Led by CAA defensive player of the year Scott Eatherton, the Huskies went on a 13-2 run late in the first half to open up a big double-digit lead. Eatherton would finish with 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Zach Stahl chipped in with 19 points off the bench. Standing at just 6’5″, Stahl did great work on the interior, grabbing 12 rebounds, including 4 offensive, and showing off a nice array of post moves.
Chris Fouch had no interest in Saturday possibly being his last collegiate game. After having just 4 points at the half, Fouch caught fire after halftime, hitting a number of big threes, runners, and drives to the rim to try and claw the Dragons back into the game. With Massenat adding 19 points, Drexel was able to draw back within single digits with under two minutes left. Unfortunately for the Dragons, Northeastern hit 10 of their 11 free throws from that point on, sealing Drexel’s defeat. Drexel can still hold out hope for an invitation to the NIT or CIT, but this might be the end of the road for the Dragons and their talented senior class.
Pennsylvania 69, Cornell 65
Despite this being a disappointing campaign for the Quakers, at the very least, they’ll have last-place Cornell to look down upon. Penn completed the season sweep of the Big Red, receiving a huge contribution from an unexpected source. With Tony Hicks suspended after throwing a punch and clocking a kid in the Columbia game, senior Dau Jok was tabbed with the start after receiving little more than spot minutes throughout the season. Jok responded in a big way, hitting 6-10 threes on his way to a career-high 21 points to propel the Quakers to victory. Fellow senior Miles Jackson-Cartwright also made the most of one of his final collegiate games, with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Penn finishes out the season Tuesday at Princeton; hopefully, this group of seniors has one last great performance in them with which to go out on top.
4:00 PM: Saint Joseph’s (21-8, 11-4 A-10) vs. La Salle (14-15, 6-9 A-10) – CBS Sports Network
Two Big 5 rivals finish out the regular season Sunday, with city bragging rights and key postseason positioning on the line, at least for St. Joe’s. With a victory, the Hawks will finish 2nd in the A-10, but could slip all the way to 5th with a loss, missing out on the important double-bye in the conference tournament. The Hawks also slid back onto the projected bubble following the loss to George Washington and can’t afford to slide into a late-season malaise as the tournament committee weighs recent results heavily in their decision process.
As for the Explorers, regardless of what happens in this regular season finale, La Salle will play St. Bonaventure in their first A-10 tournament game; those two teams are locked into the 8/9 seeds, although they could flip spots amongst themselves if La Salle loses here. St. Joe’s defeated the Explorers last month, as all five starters scored in double figures for the Hawks. With more on the line, playing better ball throughout the year, and the home crowd behind them, the Hawks should sweep the Explorers and strengthen their tournament resume.