Philadelphia, PA – Temple fended off VCU's frenetic onslaught early on and Khalif Wyatt wreaked havoc in his final home game as an Owl.
Wyatt had 30 points and Temple tallied a much-needed 84-76 victory over the 21st-ranked Rams to help bolster its hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Things looked bleak for the Owls (23-8, 11-5 A-10) following a loss to Atlantic 10 cellar dweller Duquesne on Feb. 14, which capped a 6-6 stretch. But led by Wyatt, TU bounced back with a seven-game winning streak to close the regular season.
With his team trailing by as many as 16, Wyatt settled his team down and helped by taking over from the foul line, where he sunk 13-of-16 attempts. Temple finished 26-of-31 from the charity stripe.
"We didn't panic," Wyatt said. "We just stayed under control and tried to control the pace of the game."
In their final A-10 regular-season contest, the Owls tallied their 376th victory in the conference dating back to the 1982-83 season.
Temple will be a third seed and receive a bye in next week's A-10 Tournament in Brooklyn.
Boston transfer and senior Jake O'Brien nailed a career-high five 3-pointers and netted 19 points in the victory.
The Owls recorded just nine turnovers against VCU's relentless pressure defense, which came in forcing a nation-best 20.1 giveaways a contest.
Juvonte Reddic had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Rams (24-7, 12-4), who failed in their chance to claim a share of the A-10 conference crown with Saint Louis. They will be the second seed of the conference tourney.
"You've got to win games like today. We just didn't do what it took to win." VCU head coach Shaka Smart said.
A 16-0 VCU run preceded a 12-4 push later in the opening half, which was capped on a Rob Brandenberg three-point play for its 16-point cushion, 36-20 with 5:59 left until the break.
The Owls, though, closed the period strong with an 11-0 surge to head into the locker room just down five. Scootie Randall netted five points, including a 3- pointer and two Will Cummings free throws pulled TU within 41-36 after 20 minutes.
The Rams made all six of their 3-point shots in the opening stanza.
A 15-4 swing in the early stages of the second half helped the Owls regain the lead. Randall nailed a triple and O'Brien hit two, the second of which gave TU a 41-38 edge with 14:40 left, its first lead since it was 12-10 six minutes into the tilt. Randall capped the run with a layup.
Wyatt and Temple seized control a bit later with a 13-4 push. Wyatt was 5-of-6 from the stripe during the surge, which was capped on back-to-back treys by Randall and Wyatt for a comfortable 68-56 spread with 6:34 remaining.
The Owls led by as many as 17 in the waning moments.
VCU suffered its first loss this season when leading at halftime (21-1) ... Randall and Cummings finished with 13 points apiece ... VCU was 8-of-15 from beyond the arc.