ST. LOUIS (AP) -Temple forward Lavoy Allen was given the green light Wednesday night. He certainly took advantage of it.
Allen had 18 points and 14 rebounds, and No. 20 Temple beat Saint Louis 57-51 to remain tied for first place in the Atlantic 10.
``They were leaving me open from 15 feet out,' Allen said. ``Coach told me not to hesitate on taking my jump shots.'
The Owls (25-5, 13-2), who have won six straight and 14 of 16, kept pace with Xavier for the top spot in the conference after the Musketeers beat Fordham earlier Wednesday night. Both teams have one regular-season game remaining, but Temple holds the tiebreaker and can clinch a share of the league crown and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with a win Saturday at home against George Washington.
Juan Fernandez added 17 points and Ryan Brooks had 13 for Temple.
Willie Reed led Saint Louis (19-10, 10-5) with 16 points and Christian Salecich added 10.
Allen, coming off a career-high 21 rebounds in a 65-53 win at La Salle on Sunday, posted his 12th double-double of the season. Temple coach Fran Dunphy said when Allen is in a groove, he can make any shot.
``He played great. The numbers he threw up were something,' Dunphy said. ``And again, that's not the best feature of his game. He's always in the right position defensively. He gives us that anchor.'
Defense made the difference for the Owls in holding Saint Louis scoreless for 7:27 late in the second half. Trailing 45-43 with 9:47 left, Temple went on a 14-6 run to end the game.
``I thought we really stuck together on defense down the stretch,' Dunphy said. ``In that second half, we did a good job of switching.'
Temple kept the Billikens off the board for eight successive possessions with the game on the line. Kwamain Mitchell, the leading scorer for Saint Louis, managed just seven points. He entered scoring at a 16.3 clip.
``We picked up our defense and forced them to take some tough shots,' Allen said.
Ramone Moore gave Temple the lead for good, breaking a 45-all tie by scoring his only basket of the night with 5:56 left. Allen and Fernandez followed with back-to-back baskets before Mitchell brought Saint Louis within 51-47 with a short jumper that snapped the long scoring drought. Fernandez answered for Temple and Moore added two foul shots seconds later to put the game away.
Saint Louis had won seven of eight. The Billikens jumped out to a 24-15 lead but Temple closed the first half with a 12-2 run to take a 27-26 advantage into the break.
``They were more physical, more aggressive than we were,' Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus said. ``That hurt us defensively.'
The Billikens are in sole possession of fourth place in the conference. The top four teams get a bye in the first round of the tournament, which begins March 9. The Billikens can clinch a bye with a win at Dayton on Saturday.
Temple has won the last four meetings and leads the overall series 4-1. The Owls improved to 12-3 on the road and 13-4 away from home, including neutral-site games.
The Associated Press News Service
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