PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Atlantic-10 Tournament kicks into high gear today with quarterfinal action in Atlantic City, NJ. The marquee match-up of the day will feature Big 5 foes Temple and La Salle facing off about 7 PM.
Temple had a first round bye, while La Salle advanced with a stirring 75-73 double-overtime win at St. Bonaventure (see related story).
Explorers head coach Dr. John Giannini says that was a big victory for his squad.
“We underachieved a little bit this year, so it’s good for us to have a good performance and a good win under our belt. I think it gives us some confidence,” Giannini told KYW Newsradio.
Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with John Giannini in this CBS Philly SportsPod…
Temple hasn’t played in a week, Owls head coach Fran Dunphy says his team is benefitting from that extra rest.
“Practices these days are so short, in everybody’s program, and certainly in ours — we have limited bodies,” he said. “So we’re really just doing the bare-bones work that we need to do in order to prepare. So I think these guys have had plenty of rest over the last couple of days.”
Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with Fran Dunphy in this CBS Philly SportsPod…
Temple’s last game was against La Salle, back on March 5th, and it was the regular season finale for both teams. Temple won, 90-82.
The Owls actually swept both match-ups against the Explorers, but Dunphy says they’ll have to work hard to beat the Explorers again.
“They scored 82 points on us last time we played — we were just lucky enough to make more shots than they did. It wasn’t a real defensive battle by any stretch. I really like their team, I like their balance, and I like their depth,” Dunphy says.
Meanwhile, Giannini says the Owls earned the #2 seed in the A-10 Tourney:
“Temple obviously has very good players, they are wonderfully coached. And the game against them, for someone like us, really becomes a great mental challenge because of how hard they are to play against.”
The winner of this game faces the Rhode Island-Richmond winner on Saturday.
St. Joe’s has also advanced to the quarterfinals. The Hawks barely snuck into the tournament as the 12th and final seed, but they played like they belonged in the opening round as they stunned #5 seed George Washington on the road in overtime, 71-59, on Tuesday.
Now the Hawks will face the #4 seed, Duquesne, this afternoon. If they win, they would then face the Xavier-Dayton winner.
Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060.