The Liacouras Center turned into a classroom Friday afternoon.
Hundreds of students from more than 20 local schools watched the women’s basketball team beat Richmond, 64-52, to remain a perfect 9-0 in Atlantic Ten Conference play.
The game, which started at noon, was a part of the fifth annual Dawn Staley School Day, which promotes literacy to local children. The Owls are 5-0 in games played on Dawn Staley School Day.
“We really appreciate them coming out and missing some school time to join us in what has been victories for [us] the last five years,” Staley said.
Owls center Lady Comfort scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Kamesha Hairston finished with 17 points while Fatima Maddox added 14.
The Owls (19-5 overall) jumped to a quick 9-0 lead, much to the delight of the 2,832 in attendance.
“Kids cheer no matter what happens, so, you know, it’s all fun,” Comfort said. “It’s exciting to have them out there.”
Maddox nailed a jumper from the left wing to give Temple a 20-6 advantage at the 11:15 mark. She was the last of the Owls’ starters to score.
About eight minutes later, Maddox nailed a three-pointer to stretch the Owls’ lead to 21 points. The senior guard finished the half with 10 points and three assists.
The Owls held a 40-20 lead at halftime.
The Spiders (10-14, 4-5) scored 10 of their 20 first-half points from the free-throw line and shot only 5-of-30 from the field in the first stanza.
Richmond rallied several times in the second half but never got within 10 points of the lead.
The Owls held the Spiders to 25.9 percent shooting for the game. Richmond also committed 23 turnovers.
Hairston said she was impressed by the Owls defensive effort.
“That’s our bread and butter,” Hairston said. “That’s where it all starts for us and I think now we’re getting back to how we used to play” in previous seasons.
With the win, the Owls avenged an upset they suffered to Richmond late last season. The Spiders were below .500 when they knocked off the nationally-ranked Owls, 56-54, at the Robins Center in Richmond, Va.
Dawn Staley will serve as an assistant coach for the USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team through the 2008 Olympics, provided the team qualifies for the Beijing Games, USA Basketball announced Thursday.
Staley, along with WNBA head coach Mike Thibault and Duke women’s basketball coach Gail Goestenkors, will assist USA head coach Anne Donovan and the 2007-08 USA Basketball Women’s Senior National Team.
The U.S. team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, all of which Staley had a hand in as the team’s point guard.
Freshman Jasmine Stone was voted A-10 Rookie of the Week Monday.
The 6-foot-3 center shot eight-of-nine from the field and averaged 8.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game off the bench in wins over Xavier and Dayton.
She is averaging 5.6 rebounds per game in only 14.5 minutes per contest. She also has 16 blocks this season.
The Owls take on La Salle (16-9, 4-6) Monday at the Liacouras Center.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.