Mark Karcher had 19 points, including 15 during a torrid 21-6 run in the last 10 minutes as Temple advanced to the Atlantic 10 championship game with a 76-64 victory over Xavier on Friday night.
The Owls, who limited James Posey to 15 points and stunned the Musketeers with eight 3-pointers, try for their first conference championship since 1990 on Saturday against the winner of the other semifinal between George Washington and Rhode Island.
Rasheed Brokenborough had 22 points, including four 3-pointers, and Lamont Barnes had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Temple (21-9). Gary Lumpkin led defending tournament champion Xavier (21-10) with 19 points.
The Owls, who rattled the Musketeers with their swarming matchup zone, trailed 53-50 after Lumpkin hit a 3-pointer with 9:55 left. The Owls went on an improbable 21-6 run, blitzing Xavier with a quick-scoring punch more befitting the Musketeers.
Karcher hit three 3-pointers, with a dunk from Barnes in between, and Brokenborough hit another 3 to give the Owls a 68-59 lead with 2:17 to play. The Musketeers missed six consecutive 3-pointers before Posey finally hit one for their last points, but it was much too late.
Temple was 8-for-23 on 3-pointers. Xavier, second to La Salle with 195 3s during the regular season, was 12-for-36. The Owls outrebounded the Musketeers 43-29.
Barnes scored three straight Temple baskets, including a thunderous dunk, to give the Owls a 35-34 lead early in the second half.
Posey picked up his fourth foul, a tough call on a boxout of Barnes, with 8:51 left. Karcher, who scored on a putback before Posey went out, converted another offensive rebound and hit a 3-pointer to give the Owls a 57-53 lead with 7:29 left.
Posey returned with 5:44 remaining, and Lumpkin promptly hit a deep, high-arcing 3-pointer to cut Temple's lead to 57-56.
archer hit another 3-pointer, and Barnes glided in for an offensive rebound and dunk to make it 62-57 Temple with 3:55 to play. After Lumpkin sank two foul shots, Karcher hit another 3-pointer for a 65-59 lead.
Karcher hit two free throws, and Brokenborough made 1 of 2 to complete the 21-6 run and make it 71-59 with 93 seconds left.
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