Lately, Lisa Jakubowicz hasn’t been able to hit the broad side of a barn.
The center’s shot and confidence has been off and she’s been missing more than her share of open lay-ups.
Last Sunday she put all that behind her and won a game for the Temple women’s basketball team over LaSalle.
With 4.7 seconds left and Temple trailing by one, 67-66, Jakubowicz put in one of those elusive lay-ups to left Temple (13-7, 6-3 A-10) to a 68-67 Big 5 win.
“It helps out a lot,” Jakubowicz said of the breakthrough. “I’m just like ecstatic right now. I don’t know how to handle this.”
Jen Zenszer came up big for the Explorers, almost stealing the game from Temple. She hit two three-pointers in the final 33 seconds, including one with 14 seconds left that gave LaSalle a 67-66 lead. She finished with a game-high 21 points.
But Jakubowicz wouldn’t let this one slip away. On the winning play itself, senior guard Natalia Isaac drove through the lane and drew the defensive attention to herself. She passed the ball to Jakubowicz and the rest is history.
“We do a lay-up drill in practice everyday,” Isaac said. “We had a rough time in shoot-around this morning; it took us like 12 minutes.”
Temple shot a dismal 27 percent from the field in the first half. They improved in the second half to 68 percent.
The only sure shot in both halves was Athena Christoforakis, who recorded her second double-double in a row with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Anywhere on the court, including her favorite spot at the top of the key, Christoforakis was on her game.
“Jako was seeing me a lot and because of them (teammates) I had the open looks,” Christoforakis said.
JONESIN’ FOR SOME DEFENSE
Temple used a certain formula this past weekend in their two A-10 wins: find the opponent’s best guard and stick Nikki Jones on her.
Jones, a Temple senior who hasn’t gotten much playing time this season, made her presence felt this past week. On Friday she guarded St. Joe’s Angela Zampella, limiting her to two points, and on Sunday she limited Zenszer to two points in the first half before the senior exploded for 19 in the second.
Jones only played for eight minutes in the second half.
“She gets two starts and we get two wins,” said Temple coach Dawn Staley. “I think she calms us. She’s a senior, she shows great leadership and it’s great.
“I think you want to put Nikki in the basketball game to shut down our (opposition’s) top scorer. I thought she did the job.”
NO CRUZ FOR YOU
Christine Cruz was missing in action this weekend with a nagging foot injury.
She dressed but did not play against St. Joe’s before leaving the Liacouras Center in a walking boot.
Cruz was in street clothes on the bench on Sunday with the walking boot.
“She’s day-to-day,” Staley said. “If we had to play in the Final Four she would play.”
Cruz had swelling in her foot that did go down over the weekend, according to Staley.
REALLY BIG 5
With Sunday’s win over LaSalle, Temple drew one step closer to winning a piece of the Big 5 crown.
Friday’s game versus St. Joe’s did not count in the Big 5 season standings, but the match-up on Feb. 19 at Hawk Hill will. If Temple, wins the Owls will share the Big 5 title with the Hawks.
“It’s such a great feeling because now they know we can compete with them,” Jakubowicz said. “We always could; we just couldn’t pull it together. They know now: Temple’s a threat.”
Temple beat Penn and lost to Villanova. St. Joe’s is undefeated so far in the Big 5 with Temple the only team between the Hawks and the crown.
“Everyone’s always talking about the ‘Big 5’s a must,” Florida native Christoforakis said. “I knew it was a big thing up here.”
Christoforakis says she came up north partly because of wintry weather. But now that she’s here she knows all about the Big 5. What’s more important: Snow or the Big 5?
“Big 5,” Christoforakis beams.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Christoforakis earned her second straight player of the week nod.
Her two double-double’s this past weekend led Temple to a big A-10 win over St. Joe’s and an A-10 and Big 5 win against LaSalle.
She had 14 points and 12 rebounds against St. Joe’s and 20 points with 12 rebounds against LaSalle.
The junior college transfer is leading the team in rebounds (154) and is third in scoring (206).