The women’s basketball team expected a good old-fashioned, rough-and-tumble Big 5 game to break out Friday night and they got it.
The Owls remained poised in a physical game filled with hard fouls, to defeat Penn, 68-49, at the Palestra.
Thanks to Kamesha Hairston, the Owls (8-4 overall, 2-0 Big 5) will start the New Year with a four-game winning streak. The senior forward finished with 25 points on 11-of-18 shooting, despite the Quakers (4-5, 0-3) grueling style of play.
“We knew it was going to be like that,” Hairston said the physical play. “That’s how teams have to play against our speed. They have to out-scrap us and out-hustle us. And that’s what [Penn] tried to do.”
The Owls held a nine-point lead with 12:51 left when Hairston was fouled by Maggie Burgess on a breakaway layup attempt. Burgess came from behind and knocked Hairston to the floor where she went crashing into the basket support.
Hairston, who was forced to sit out the final seconds of the first half after she collided with a Penn player, took exception to the foul. She popped up and got in Burgess’ face.
“I wasn’t expecting that [type] of contact,” Hairston said. “She really didn’t go for the ball, she went for my head. That type of play isn’t necessary.
“We don’t play that type of basketball and I don’t expect teams to play that type of basketball toward us. It was just a dirty play.”
Hairston’s display of toughness helped spark the Owls in the second half.
The Quakers cut the lead to seven with 11:24 left, but the Owls went on a 6-0 run to establish a 13-point advantage with about eight minutes remaining.
The Owls held a double-digit lead throughout the remainder of the game.
Hairston bailed the Owls out several times early in the game when the team struggled to get the ball inside against the Quakers zone defense. She scored most of her 14 first-half points on mid-range jumpers with the shot clock winding down.
“Kamesha’s just playing at a high level right now,” coach Dawn Staley said. “She wants to be on the floor, she wants to score, she wants to put this team on her shoulders and she’s not going to let a little bump or bruise prevent her from being out there on the floor.”
The Owls shot 50 percent from the field in the first half to take a six-point lead at halftime.
“Penn has always played us this way,” Staley said. “Tight first half and then we get our feet under us and we go on little small runs. I thought we did that throughout the second half.”
The Owls also controlled the boards.
Temple outrebounded the Quakers, 40-21. Fifteen of Temple’s boards came off the offensive glass.
“We just wanted our team to play disciplined and do the intangibles – scrap, get loose balls and deflections – and for the most part, I think we did that,” Staley said.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.