TRENTON, N.J. – Senior center Candice Dupree answered questions with a puzzled look on her face, at the press conference following the women’s basketball team’s NCAA Tournament first round game with Hartford.
Her Temple career and the Owls’ season were over.
Just minutes earlier, 11th-seeded Hartford had ended the Owls’ hopes of going deep into the Tournament with a 64-58 victory on Sunday at the Sovereign Bank Arena. Danielle Hood’s 20 points led the Hawks, who will face either three seed Georgia or 14th-seeded Marist in the NCAA second round.
“It was a tough loss,” Dupree said while fighting back tears. “I would have liked to make it to the second round, but, I mean, it didn’t work out that way.”
After spending all season in the top 25 rankings and advancing to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, the Owls (24-8) had high expectations. But their lengthy Tournament run was cut short.
The Hawks (27-3) built a 14-9 lead eight minutes into the game, but the Owls embarked on a 13-4 run to take a 22-18 lead with five minutes left in the half. The Owls made just one shot the rest of the half, and entered halftime down 25-24.
The Hawks came out of intermission shooting well, and built a 51-40 lead midway through the first half. But Temple battled back, and eventually tied the game at 58 on a three-point play by senior guard Khadija Bowens. The Owls didn’t score again, though, and exited the Tournament with their third first-round defeat in five seasons.
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.