Saturday, March 15, 2003

Temple defense defines outcome

XU notebook: Poor-shooting Xavier crumbles against the zone

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DAYTON - Temple's defensive game plan could not have worked better Friday night against Xavier in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals.

The Owls came at No. 10 Xavier (25-5) with more energy than a week ago when Xavier put up 96 against TU's matchup zone. This time, Temple continued to limit David West's touches, and the Owls benefited from off-night shooting by Xavier to win 63-57. Forced to work the ball through Temple's zone, Xavier committed 20 turnovers, leading to 26 Temple points.

The inefficiency on offense was rare for a team that averages 79 points.

But Xavier played for more than half of the first half without its point guard after Dedrick Finn picked up his second foul less than eight minutes into the game. It had a large impact on how Xavier attacked Temple's zone.

"It had a huge impact," Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "Lionel (Chalmers) wasn't playing that well, and he had five turnovers at the half, and he probably needed a blow."

Chalmers finished with nine turnovers, most of them coming on ill-advised passes.

"Temple really packed the zone in and took away the whole middle," Chalmers said. "They did a good job with it."

Not having Finn also took away Xavier's highest percentage 3-point shooter, a necessary weapon against Temple. As a result, Xavier made just four 3s in the half, none from Romain Sato, who scored two first-half points.

SECOND HALF STARS: Sato and Temple's Brian Polk each went into halftime having scored two first-half points. What a difference the break made.

Polk came out and carried Temple to the win with 20 second-half points.

"I was focused on what coach (Chaney) wanted me to do," Polk said.

"Then I just got into a groove."

Sato made four 3s in the second half and finished with 16 points.

FREE THROW WOES: West made 6 of 6 free throws, but he was the only Xavier player shooting well from the line. Sato, Finn, Keith Jackson and Will Caudle each went 0-for-2 from while Anthony Myles made 2 of 4 free throws.

WEST MOVES UP: West collected 15 rebounds to go with 12 points, giving him 68 career double-doubles, first all-time at Xavier. Tyrone Hill is second with 67.

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Temple defense defines outcome

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