Back on the court after six days away from competition, the women’s basketball team made up for lost time by camping out in the paint Sunday.
The Owls scored 62 points in the lane on the way to an 88-70 victory against Miami (Ohio) at the Liacouras Center.
Senior Kamesha Hairston led the Owls (5-4) with 23 points and 13 rebounds, her fourth double-double in nine games this season.
“I don’t like the week when we don’t have games,” said Hairston, who leads the Owls in rebounding at 9.4 rebounds per game and is ranked third in the nation in scoring, averaging 22.3 points per contest.
“But it feels good to be back in action,” she said.
The long break between games seemed to rejuvenate the Owls.
Temple scored 31 points in the first 10 minutes to gain a 16-point advantage. The Owls shot 47 percent from the field and racked up 50 points before intermission – their highest scoring first half of the season.
“I guess we got tired of practicing against one another,” coach Dawn Staley said about the break.
The Owls controlled the tempo from the opening tip, using every opportunity on offense to push the ball against the Redhawks (5-6).
“We want to push,” Staley said. “We know what our advantage is and coming into this game it was our speed. We wanted to make sure that we push the tempo of the game, control the tempo of the game and not walk the ball up the floor so much.”
The backcourt rotation of LaKeisha Eaddy, Fatima Maddox and Ashley Morris dished out 10 assists without committing a turnover before halftime.
Lady Comfort, who served a one-game suspension for violating team rules during last week’s loss to Maryland, contributed 10 points in the first stanza, hitting three baskets in the first five minutes of the game.
“I had a lot to make up for [after missing] the previous game,” said Comfort, who finished with 20 points on 10 of 15 shooting. “It just felt good to play again.”
On the defensive side, the Owls badgered Miami from the beginning, forcing the Redhawks to make tough shots and turnovers.
The Owls held the Redhawks to 35.7 percent shooting in the first half.
“I think we’re getting more comfortable playing with one another,” Staley said. “The expectations on the defensive end are there. I think we’re starting to trust each other a little more.”
HAIRSTON MOVES UP
Hairston passed Theresa Govens for 12th place among Temple’s all-time career points leaders when she scored her sixth point on a jumper with 17:54 left in the first half. Hairston now has 1,149 career points.
AGAINST THE MAC
With the win, the Owls improved to 2-1 against Mid-American Conference opponents. They have also defeated Toledo and lost to Bowling Green.
Staley said it is important that the Owls give a good defensive effort against MAC teams. The Owls allowed a season-high 86 points in their loss to Bowling Green on Nov. 24.
“The MAC, they score points,” Staley said. “They are reputable in that category and a lot of times you’re going to have to score a lot of points to beat them.
“For us, our motto is defense. They make you play. Either they’re going to score a lot of points on you or not. If they do, they win.”
The Owls face their last MAC opponent of the season Tuesday when they take on Western Michigan (5-6) at the Liacouras Center
Western Michigan senior Carrie Moore leads the nation in scoring at 27.9 points per game.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.