The women’s basketball team lost its WNIT Sweet 16 matchup to Syracuse, 82-68, on Thursday, March 22 at McGonigle Hall.
Seniors Shey Peddy, Kristen McCarthy, BJ Williams and center Joelle Connelly never got the swan-song season they were looking for.
The women’s basketball team’s 6-2 run with five minutes left in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament Sweet 16 game against Syracuse, losing 82-68 to the Orange, was the Owls’ last chance to extend their season.
It was the last breath the Owls could muster, as their run brought them down to 68-62, before the Orange made four quick points. The 72-62 Syracuse led with three minutes and 31 seconds remaining signaled the end for the Owls’ seniors.
“As the time was winding down I was kind of shocked just to think I’d never wear a Temple jersey again,” McCarthy said.
“It’s a disappointing feeling, just knowing that as the time winds out there’s nothing else you can do and this will be the last time we wear a Temple jersey,” Peddy said.
And with 47 seconds remaining the trio of Williams, Peddy and McCarthy walked off the court in McGonigle Hall for the last time to a roar of applause, but solemn looks on their faces.
Coach Tonya Cardoza now leads the Owls into what feels like uncharted territory, replacing key seniors.
“Obviously, we’re losing one of the best senior classes ever so it’s going to be hard to replace them,” Cardoza said.
McCarthy has been the face of the program for four years, winning a number of awards in the Atlantic Ten Conference including Rookie of the Year in 2009 and A-10 First Team in 2010. In the Big 5 she earned Player of the Year in 2010 and two first-team selections in 2010 and 2011.
McCarthy finished in the Top 10 in Temple history in points per game (12.9), field goals (626), field goal attempts (1,610), three pointers (128), three-point attempts (389), rebounds (713) and steals (209). She also ranks fourth all-time with 1,619 points, trailing only Pam Balogh, Candice Dupree and Marilyn Stephens.
Peddy stepped in last year after transferring from Wright State and made an impact in the A-10 immediately. She won A-10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year this season and first-team selections both years.
She also ranks in the Top 10 in school history in three’s (128), steals (206), single-season points (17.6 per game), single-season assists (4.2 per game last year), three’s (77) and free throws (111). Peddy is also the only player to have at least 100 steals in a single season, which she did in both of her past two seasons.
“What these guys have been able to do over the number of years that they’ve been here, it’s going to be hard to replace them, more importantly the effort and the passion that they play with,” Cardoza said.
Connelly transferred from Hofstra and played the past two years on North Broad. The center struggled to grab a starting spot and was suspended the past three games for academic reasons. She averaged 2.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game with 24 starts as an Owl.
Williams has been the “unsung hero,” Cardoza said. While Williams doesn’t have the accolades of her backcourt mates, she still ranks fifth in career assists at Temple with 367. She also finished with the third most assists in a season with 157.
“[Williams is] probably the one that doesn’t get as much credit as [Peddy and McCarthy], but she’s been the glue to really hold us together this year,” Cardoza said.
The quartet helped Temple make back-to-back NCAA tournament second rounds for the first time in Temple history. The one thing missing from their résumé is an A-10 Championship. They also weren’t able to win the WNIT, something they expected after missing the NCAA tournament this year.
“I definitely enjoyed my time here at Temple and I learned so much,” McCarthy said. “I took a chance coming all the way from [La Puenta, Calif.] It’s once in a lifetime and I’ve enjoyed it and I’ll miss it as well.”
For Peddy it was a little more difficult to say goodbye to Cardoza, who she grew up idolizing. Peddy was born in Roxbury, Mass., a short distance from Cardoza. The two knew each other well before their time at Temple together.
“It hurts, it’s somebody you look up to all your life,” Peddy said. “I definitely appreciate everything that she’s done for me. I’m going to miss coming here every day, joking around with her, yelling at me and learning.”
Junior forward Victoria Macaulay now emerges as the likely focal point of a suddenly young Owls squad. Peddy is being looked at by the Women’s National Basketball Association, McCarthy may find a place to play professionally, if not in the WNBA and Williams wants to become a coach.
“I don’t know how much it’s really hit me yet,” McCarthy said. “I’m done with college. That moment, you never really think that it will come.”
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.