ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Some final thoughts as No. 1 Temple (28-5) beat No. 5 Rhode Island (23-9) in the first Atlantic-10 semifinal here at leaky Boardwalk Hall. The Owls now wait to face the winner of the second semi between No. 2 Xavier and No. 3 Richmond in Sunday's championship game (1 p.m. ET).
Is Temple that good or has the competition here in AC been that bad? It's probably somewhere in between. St. Bonaventure wasn't going to give the Owls much of a test but Rhode Island should have done more given everything that was at stake. Instead, the Rams couldn't deal with any kind of prosperity yet again and now must wait and see if the NIT phone rings.
After sprinting to a 17-point halftime lead, Temple spent the second half running its offense and nearly all of the shot clock each time up the floor. And just like Friday's quarterfinal, the Owls took care of the ball. A 7 turnover effort (with 18 assists) against the Bonnies was followed up by just 7 turnovers (with 12 assists) vs. Rhody. And keep in mind that a few of those turnovers were shot-clock violations that likely wouldn't have happened in a tighter game.
Field goal accuracy continued to elude Rhode Island in the second half. After going 7-for-30 (.233) in the first half, the Rams shot just 9 of 29 (.310) in the final 20 minutes. Give Temple's defense credit as that's where this game was lost and won.
Temple's biggest lead was 22 points at 40-18 early in the second half. The Owls had two players in double figures, led by Ryan Brooks' 16. Rhode Island's leading scorer was Keith Cothran with 11 points.
So, is Temple really that good? Stay tuned on Sunday and beyond.