The magic numbers when it comes to the end of the season for the Temple men's basketball team are 22…
It's the attribute St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli noted great players have when it comes to taking the last shot.
Courage to take the shot, courage to deal with the consequences if they miss.
Temple's Khalif Wyatt, who torched the Hawks for 34 points last Saturday but missed the final shot in a one-point loss, had the courage to shoot a long three with seven seconds remaining and the Owls down two against Dayton on Saturday. The shot went in, helping Temple to a critical 72-71 road win, but not before a hard-to-believe finish to the wild Atlantic 10 Conference game.
"Me personally I was (thinking three the whole time)," admitted Wyatt. "Coach put the ball in my hands and whatever I was going to do, he was going to live with. That was the chance I was going to take. He trusts me, he's been trusting me and I'm going to reward him for it."
Wyatt's three capped a comeback from a 10-point deficit with under five minutes remaining. Wyatt – who had been on the bench for a good portion of the run – hit Anthony Lee for a dunk to make it a 71-69 game with 50 seconds remaining.
The Owls' trapping defense caused Dayton's Kevin Dillard to travel with 20 seconds left, and Wyatt hit the three over the arm of Vee Sanford to give Temple the lead.
Dillard lost the ball out of bounds trying to bring the ball up court with three seconds left, apparently sealing the game, but then the craziness ensued. Scootie Randall missed two free throws with under two seconds remaining, and the Flyers called timeout.
Apparently needing to throw the ball half the length of the floor and hit a shot to win the game, the Flyers received what looked like an unbelievable gift from the officials as Anthony Lee was called for a questionable foul before the pass.
The foul put Josh Benson on the line for two shots, but he missed both – the second rolling around the entire cylinder before popping out. Jake O'Brien rebounded and was fouled, and he missed two free throws – the second failing to hit the rim and giving the Flyers one last chance.
But Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson deflected the inbounds pass, giving the Owls a much-needed win as they try to build their resume for both the Atlantic 10 and NCAA Tournaments. Temple is 16-7 overall and 5-4 in the A-10, while Dayton fell to 13-10, 3-6.
"The roller coaster was crazy," said Wyatt, who finished with 20 points, including 14 in the second half. "I hit a big shot, the adrenaline was so high, I was thinking we're going to win the game, and Ant commits the foul, it was the lowest I've ever been. To have no control over the game, it's not a good feeling at all."
And that's the thing about guys with the courage to take the last shot. They only worry when the ball isn't in their hands.
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