All season long the women’s basketball team has tried to build momentum by beating good teams.
The Owls tried against Xavier but they dropped a close one. Against George Washington, they folded near the end of the game and lost big.
But after last Friday night, the stigma of not having won a big game is gone with Temple’s 60-55 win over Atlantic-10 foe St. Joe’s.
Sophomore guard Regan Apo made sure of it.
Apo scored 18 points including four three-pointers at critical times, to lead the Owls to their 12th win of the season.
“It’s a huge win,” said Temple coach Dawn Staley. “That’s the kind of win we needed all season I think the monkey’s off our back a little bit. I wish we would have had this kind of win earlier in the season.”
Apo gave Temple a 31-26 lead with two consecutive threes in the second half and the Owls never again trailed.
“I’ve been forcing a lot of shots lately,” Apo said. “I tried to pick my shots a little better and when I caught the ball I turned and looked and there was nobody near me I just shot it. The more I think about it the more I seem to miss. If I just let it go it has a better shot of going in.”
St. Joe’s cut the lead to four with 33 seconds left but they had to send Temple to the line. Apo iced the game with four free throws in the last 28 seconds.
“I think this win was definitely a great win because it shows we’re starting to learn to pull it out at the end,” Apo said. “Coming down the stretch the game got close again and we didn’t fold like we did in the past.”
Early on in the game it looked like Temple had already folded. The Hawks opened the game with a 12-2 run.
Temple came back, however, and started a run of their own. Athena Christoforakis made a layup and Stacey Smalls added a three-pointer to spark a 10-2 run for Temple.
The Owls had a relatively simple time scoring in the paint considering St. Joe’s big height advantage inside. With 6-5 freshman Irina Krasnoshiok and 6-1 junior Susan Moran, it looked like all of Temple’s scoring would come from the perimeter.
Apo’s hot outside shot did lead the team, but Christoforakis owned the paint, scoring 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
“They might have had the height but they don’t like to bang down low,” Christoforakis said. “I’m a very physical player. I just pushed them down low a little bit and they really didn’t want to get hit so they didn’t play very hard.”
With the 17-12 lead, St. Joe’s started playing 2-3 zone. The players, in their red jerseys, looked like members of the Chinese Red Army moving in perfect unilateral motion, their heads moving together towards the ball.
Christoforakis somehow found a way to get through the foot soldiers to make a layup to give Temple a 18-17 lead, its first since the score was 2-0.
Apo stole the ball from the normally sure-handed Angela Zampella and Nikki Jones, in for the injured Christine Cruz, nailed a three-pointer for a 21-20 lead. Temple went into the half up 23-22 and only trailed in the early moments of the second half en route to the victory.
It was the first win for Temple in the series since a 99-66 blowout in 1998. St. Joe’s has won the last five. Since 1990, the Hawks still lead the series 19-5.
St. Joe’s was led by Susan Moran with 18 points and Mehmedic with 16.