SALT LAKE CITY-Leading up to the opening round matchup between Temple and Arizona State, much of the talk was about the two teams’ all-conference guards, Temple junior Shey Peddy and Arizona State senior Dymond Simon. No one could have predicted it was one of the Owls’ bigs who would steal the show.
The women’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament as No. 10 seed Temple (24-8) defeated No. 7-seeded Arizona State, 63-45, in the opening round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. Sophomore center Victoria Macaulay led the way for the Owls with 12 points.
“That’s not my typical game. I’m not really an offensive-minded player. Defense comes first and then eventually my offensive game will come,” Macaulay said. “My teammates knew I was on a roll today so they tried to get me the ball.”
Macaulay’s presence was a big factor on the defensive end as well, recording three blocks and alternating several shots inside.
“Their post hasn’t really been scoring well. We kind of let them get the ball, that was the lesser of the two evils,” Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “But Macaulay stepped up and scored really well. They did a lot of good things.”
Peddy finished the contest with 10 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three assists. Her six steals were enough to break Jen Ricco’s single season steal record of 96 set in 1997-98. Her three assists also moved her to No. 8 on the school’s single season assist record list.
The Owls trailed early as the Sun Devils opened the game 3-3 from the field en route to a 7-2 lead. The Owls started sluggish, missing their first five attempts. Peddy converted on a layup to give the Owls a 10-9 lead with 10 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the first half. The Owls never trailed from that point forward.
The Sun Devils went cold the rest of the half, missing their next nine shots and 14 of 15 attempts from the field. The Owls countered by making nine of their next 14, including a 10-0 run that stretched its led to 18-9 with 6:45 remaining in the half. The Owls entered halftime with a 31-20 lead.
Arizona State opened the second half with a layup before Temple scored seven straight to stretch their lead to 16 points. The Cherry and White held their largest lead of 24 with 5:19 remaining in the game.
Temple was able to contain All-Pac-10 guard Simon to force as many turnovers (five) as points scored. The Owls defense limited the Sun Devils to 30.9 percent from the field and 13.3 percent from the three-point line, while forcing 18 turnovers. Coach Tonya Cordoza alternated between man and a 2-3 zone for most of the second half.
“Playing zone defense isn’t something we like to do. We like to get up and pressure,” Cordoza said. “But sometimes you have to adjust based on the team you are playing. Once we started going zone, we frustrated them.”
Temple recorded their largest margin of victory in the NCAAs with the 18-point win. The previous record was 12 in the win over James Madison in the 2010 First Round game. Temple lost to eventual champions Connecticut, 90-36, in the second round last season after defeating James Madison. This is the eighth consectutive year in the Big Dance for the Owls.
Temple are currently winners of 17 of its last 19 games with its two losses to A-10 foes, Xavier and Dayton. Xavier defeated the Cherry and White, 73-66, in the regular season finale, while Dayton knocked the Owls out of the A-10 tournament, 75-67, on March 6.
Next up for the Owls is No. 2 seed Notre Dame, who defeated home court favorites Utah, 67-54. The game is scheduled for Monday at 9:30 ET (7:30 MT).
“I don’t think our seed really mattered, whether we were a 10 or a seven. It showed that we were better than the 10 seed, but at the end of the day, the win was all that really mattered,” Peddy said.
Joe Serpico can be reached at email@example.com