True, it may not be a word that exists, but it is the feeling that undoubtedly went through the campus of Temple University as Juan Fernandez gave his Owls their first NCAA tournament win in 10 years.
Fernandez’s last second, lean in, game winning, mid-range jumper over Penn State without question erupted the combination of exhilaration and redemption for both he and coach Fran Dunphy.
In Dunphy’s case, the 66-64 victory released the King-Kong sized money off of his back as Dunphy finally delivered a Temple tournament win after three straight failed attempts.
Meanwhile, Fernandez’s junior year was an underwhelming one as he was down in all offensive categories and seemed to disappear in big moments and in big games.
Yet, on this day, the Argentinian proved why he was the superstar that the faithful on North Broad Street had come to know. In the dramatics of it all, this game represented his career.
He was fantastic in the first half, scoring 17 of his 23 on 6 of 7 shooting all before halftime. But the second was a different story as he did virtually nothing — at least until it mattered.
The good news for Temple was that Ramon Moore awoke from his slumber in a monstrous way. He took over where Fernandez left off, he scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half.
Still, Temple was in a fight for their postseason lives, even as the Nittany Lions lost Jeff Brooks. That’s because the Owls had no answer for Talor Battle who put up 23 points of his own including the game tying three with 14 seconds left.
Enter Fernandez and the hysteria thereafter.
The Owls didn’t get much from senior big man Lavoy Allen, as he only scored 3 points, but did grab 13 big rebounds. Scootie Randall’s anticipated return was generally worthless. Though, the Owls did get a big effort from Khalif Wyatt off the bench.
Though, the legend of this game will be about an Argentinian who has now forever marked his place in Temple Basketball lore along with another fellow Argentinian, Pepe Sanchez.
The victory was the first win in the tournament since they beat the same Nittany Lions to advance to the Elite 8 in 2001.
The Owls must now somehow refocus on the next matchup at hand, which will most likely be the tough Aztecs of San Diego State.
Though, for one day, the Cherry and White can be proud of and accomplishment ten years in the making.