As poorly as Virginia Tech's Hokies had played, as poorly as they had shot and rebounded, as disoriented as they were with Perry Young on the bench at the start of the game, they still had a chance to win a first-round NCAA game in the East Regional today.
But Tech played poorly and unintelligently the last five minutes and helped Temple escape with a 60-57 victory in the Hartford Civic Center.
The Owls advanced to Saturday's second-round game against top-ranked Georgetown. In Saturday's other game, Loyola (Ill.) will face Southern Methodist. Loyola slipped past Iona, 59-58, tonight and SMU defeated Old Dominion, 85-68.
Temple (25-5) was cruising along with a 46-38 lead, with seven minutes to play, following two free throws by 6-foot-8 Granger Hall, who led all scorers with 22 points and all rebounders with 13.
But Virginia Tech (20-9) pulled to 48-44 on a tip-in by Bobby Beecher, two baskets by Tim Lewis and a stuff shot by Young to a dunk by Hall. Then the Hokies fell apart. Instead of getting the ball inside to Young, who averages 18 points per game, Lewis, who is 6-1, came down and tried to shoot over Hall.
The shot was blocked, and Hall got underneath for a layup that put Temple's lead at 50-46. The Hokies did get within one on Dave Burgess' dunk, but never again were in position to tie or take the lead.
Lewis had another long jumper blocked and threw away a pass down the stretch.
He and Young did not start because they missed practice Wednesday, and were benched by Coach Charlie Moir for the first 12 minutes.
Temple, the worst-shooting team in the tournament field (44 percent), made 45 percent of its shots today and only 62 percent from the foul line, just two of the factors that prompted Coach John Chaney to say, "We were extremely fortunate. We sat around waiting for them to come back."
Iona missed eight of 12 free throws in the second half including one by senior co-captain Tony Hargraves with three seconds left that could have tied the score.
Loyola was led by Alfredrick Hughes -- the nation's scoring co-leader -- who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, including the one following Hargraves' missed shot.
Southern Methodist, which probably been the most disappointing team in the country the last six weeks, is on another collision course with Georgetown after defeating Old Dominion.
The Monarchs (19-12) were within 47-42 and playing well behind Mark Davis' game-high 32 points. But Old Dominion allowed the Mustangs (23-9) to score the next 10 points and turn the game into a rout.
SMU, which lost to Georgetown by one point last year in the West Regional, had five players in double figures. Carl Wright led the Mustangs with 18.