The women’s basketball team finished its three- game homestand Saturday with a dominant, 79-44, win over cross-state Atlantic Ten Conference foe Duquesne. The win moved the No. 19 Owls to 10-2 at home this season, with one of their losses coming against a former top-ranked Tennessee team.
Junior forward Kamesha Hairston and senior guard Khadija Bowens both scored 16 points to lead the Owls. Senior all-American center Candice Dupree chipped in with 13, as every player on the team’s bench registered a score.
The Owls were in the driver’s seat from the tipoff, as they scored the game’s first 21 points.
During the stretch, the Dukes missed all six of their field goal attempts and turned the ball over 10 times. Two free throws by Duquesne guard Brittany Warren finally ended the nine-and-a-half-minute drought. But it wasn’t until a three-pointer by Loui Hall nearly two minutes later that Duquesne notched its first field goal.
With eight minutes remaining in the first half, the Owls led by 22, at 27-5. As the whistle blew for intermission, that lead had ballooned into a 33-point advantage, at 45-12.
Once again it was hot shooting that allowed the Owls to set the game’s pace. They tied a Liacouras Center record for field goal percentage in a half by shooting with 61.5 percent efficiency, which was also a season best for the Owls (17-5 overall, 8-2 A-10).
Temple was able to set the tempo with its play on the defensive end of the court. The Owls scored 28 points off 16 Duquesne (9-13, 4-7 A-10) turnovers.
Owls coach Dawn Staley said she was proud of the way her team was able to control the pace of the game with athleticism on the defensive end.
“We wanted to use our speed and really pressure the ball and get into the passing lanes,” Staley said. “We didn’t want to give them any open looks. … They can shoot the ball with the best of them if you let them.”
Duquesne shot just 22 percent from the floor in the first half, and hit only 31.5 percent for the game. However, the Dukes managed to put up 32 points in a Temple turnover-laden second half. The Owls’ starters only played seven combined minutes in the latter half, as the team committed 23 turnovers and shot 39 percent from the field.
Duquesne was the Owls’ third consecutive opponent with a sub-.500 record. But the Owls have had trouble throughout the season playing against lesser competition.
Hairston said the timing of the team’s consistency was perfect.
“We’re finally doing the things we need to do [to win],” Hairston said. “We’re growing as a basketball team and if we continue to play like this then we are going to go far.”
Staley said she knows that some of the teams’ slip-ups early in the season have caused them to lose grip on first place in the conference, a spot the Owls held all of last season. Charlotte currently holds the top spot in the A-10.
“We are not in the driver’s seat. And when you’re not in the driver’s seat, you got to play hungry every night,” Staley said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”
The Owls will look to take their show on the road, as they will visit St. Louis on Friday, and then Richmond on Sunday. Staley’s team is 7-3 on the road this season, having beaten then-No. 9 Rutgers and A-10 titan Xavier.
MISSING THE POINT?
Senior guard Jennifer Owens missed her fifth straight game with an ankle injury she sustained against Rutgers Jan. 19. She is currently listed as day-to-day and could begin practicing again soon.
“Until the trainers clear her, then I can only play the players that are ready to play,” Staley said.
When asked about the consistency of the starters who have taken Owens’ place, Staley was brief.
“I want [Jen] back,” she said. “Whether she starts or comes off the bench.”
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at email@example.com.