There was a rain delay.
At a basketball game.
Due to a leak in the roof of Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, the women’s basketball team’s Atlantic Ten Conference Championship quarterfinal game with Richmond was delayed nearly 90 minutes before finally getting underway.
And after the very long, tedious delay on a very wet and rainy Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, the Owls downed the Spiders, 70-62, to advance to Sunday’s semi-final doubleheader.
The Owls were, as usual, led by senior guard Ashley Morris who scored a game-high 19 points while adding seven assists and five rebounds. Freshman guard Lindsay Kimmel pitched in with 12 points and junior forward Shanea Cotton and senior center Lady Comfort each contributed 10.
But all of that was in doubt, as the maintenance crew spent over an hour trying to fix several leaks in the arena roof. There was one at the north side foul line and at center court, among others. The Owls tried to keep it loose during the long delay, focusing on basketball and staying within the game.
“We just tried to keep the energy level up,” Morris said. “We were in there, talking about the game, having a good time.”
Coach Dawn Staley interrupted her star player and gave her account of what went on in the locker room as the team waited out the rain. And it had little to do with basketball.
“You want the truth now?” she asked the media. “I went to the locker room twice, the first time I went, [sophomore forward] Jasmine Stone had on [assistant coach] Lisa Boyer’s glasses in the middle of the locker room. The second time…I see Lady in the corner just moving around slightly, and Ashley…had my coat, my scarf, my coat was dragging on the floor. They were just having fun, keeping the energy level up that way. They weren’t focusing on the game at all, trust me.”
Once the game got underway, however, it was a tale of two vastly different halves. The Owls jumped out to a lead as large as 19, and wound up closing the first half with a 36-21 advantage. Perhaps all that joking and clowning around the Owls did in the locker room helped them take such a commanding lead.
“I think we were ready to play the game,” Staley said. “The players were tired of sitting in the locker room, I think part of it was the adrenaline of finally being able to play the game.”
But Richmond answered back in the second half, thanks in large part to 10 points from freshman guard Brittani Shells and seven three-pointers from the team. Shells paced the Spiders with 18 points in the contest, as she led her team to valiant comeback attempt in the final 20 minutes of play. Staley attributed the comeback to the Spiders’ defense, and at the same time, made note of her own adjustments to help that helped Owls hold on.
“The zone, I think the zone slowed us down,” she said. “Once we were pressing, turning them over a little bit, pushing the tempo, [our play improved].”
While it was a tale of two halves in many aspects, there was one constant: fouls. Both teams played a very physical, aggressive style of play. The Spiders finished with 28 personal fouls to the Owls’ 23. Each team had a player foul out, as freshman center Crystal Goring reached five fouls for the Spiders with Cotton doing the same for the Owls. That kind of game in that kind of environment with that kind of meaning only left Staley impressed with her squad.
“I thought we fought,” she said. “I thought we really fought for 40 minutes. There were plenty of opportunities where…we could have folded. [But] this team has been through a lot, and nothing good comes without a little adversity.”
The Owls will play Dayton in the semi-finals, Sunday afternoon at noon. The Flyers downed the 49ers, 77-55, to advance.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more read: Flyers advance to battle Owls