Before Dawn Staley paced the sidelines for the women’s basketball team, the Owls and March didn’t agree with one another.
The Cherry and White boasted just one NCAA tournament appearance prior to 2000. That campaign came in 1988-89, when the Owls finished at 22-10, and reached the second round.
However, not only have hairstyles downsized since the 1980’s, but the loss column has receded as well. Eight years and 172 wins under Staley have given the Owls a reputation for success. Nowadays Temple is about as compatible with the Tournament as peanut butter is with jelly.
Here is a recap of Staley’s NCAA appearances:
2001-2002: No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 14 Temple (20-11, 15-4, A-10 Champions)
The Owls were outmatched in this contest by an experienced Cyclones squad. Junior guard Stacey Smalls led the team with 18 points, but the Owls could not overcome a shortcoming under the glass. The Cyclones out-rebounded the Owls 40-29, and also shot nearly 54 percent. It was just the second NCAA appearance in school history.
Result: L, 72-57
2003-2004: No. 6 TCU vs. No. 11 Temple (21-10, 17-2 A-10 Champions)
A see-saw brawl had Temple close to its first NCAA tournament win in 15 years. The Owls were aided by a stifling defense, which contributed to15 forced turnovers. Sophomore guard Candice Dupree had 14 points, but foul trouble kept her handicapped down the stretch. TCU would capitalize with a devastating 21-9 run that put the Owls to bed for good.
Result: L, 70-57
2004-2005: No. 6 Temple (28-4, 18-0, A-10 Champions) vs. No. 11 Louisiana Tech
The Owls stormed through the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament to land a six-seed in the NCAA tournament. Against Louisiana Tech, the Cherry and White were fueled by a balanced attack of offensive producers. Junior All-American candidate Candace Dupree notched a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. A supporting cast of double digit scorers included Ari Moore, Khadija Bowens and Kamesha Hairston.
Result: W, 66-61
No. 6 Temple vs. No. 3 Rutgers
The Owls took their momentum into their second round match-up against Rutgers. Seniors Cynthia Jordan and Ari Moore topped the Owls with 15 and 13 points, respectively. However, the Scarlet Knights proved too versatile and scorched the nets with 63 percent shooting. The somber end would be overlooked as the Owls completed arguably their best season in school history.
Result: L, 61-54
2005-2006: No. 6 Temple (24-8, 15-4, A-10 Champions) vs. No. 11 Hartford
In a surprise upset, the Owls were tripped by a little know 11-seed. The Hawks held Candace Dupree to only 11 points, and led the majority of the game. Facing a double digit halftime deficit, the Owls quickly went to work. After cutting the Hawks margin to four, the Owls ran out of steam. Hartford used the free throw line to finish off the game.
Result: L, 64-58
2006-2007: No. 8 Temple (25-8, 14-2, A-10 runner-up) vs. No. 9 Nebraska
An early dose of senior guard Fatima Maddox gave the Owls a quick 12 point lead. Maddox would lead the team with 18 points and five assists. In the second half, the Cornhuskers asserted themselves to break a late game tie. However, with just over two minutes remaining, the Owls made a 5-0 run that would prove pivotal. Four Maddox free throws assured the Owls a victory.
Result: W, 64-61
No. 8 Temple vs. No. 1 Duke
Next up against Duke the Owls nearly pulled off the school’s biggest upset of all-time. However scoring droughts combined with late defensive errors shattered the Owls Cinderella slipper once and for all. Fatima Maddox led all scorers with 18 points.
Result: L , 62-52
What to expect for Arizona State
The women’s basketball team has never been there. And until last season, neither has No. 6 Arizona State (21-10 overall, 14-4 Pac-10 Conference).
It’s the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, and for the first time in school history, the Sun Devils crashed the second weekend party. This season they return to the dance with confidence, and much needed experience.
A preseason riddled with injuries, the Sun Devils started the 2008 season gasping for air. A difficult non-conference schedule didn’t make matters any better. Arizona State lost to Auburn 75-69 on Dec. 2, but a trio of Pac-10 wins over including UCLA and the USC helped level the Sun Devils at 5-5. The team then hit its stride by winning its last four games of the regular season. However, that streak didn’t translate into a Pac-10 championship, but rather a 65-61 second round loss to Cal.
The Devils are lead by senior forward Emily Westerberg. She averages 13.2 points per game, mostly from the inside, and collects five rebounds per game. Junior guard Briann January boasts 10.2 points per contest and leads the team in assists, but is just as effective on the defensive end. January leads the team in steals with 74.
The Sun Devils are coached by 12-year veteran Charli Turner Thorne. She is the most accomplished front woman in Arizona State history with a career record of 224-144. At the helm, she owns two Pac-10 championships and two sweet sixteen appearances.
Ultimately the Owls will need to shut down the interior offense of Westerberg and January. The Sun Devils don�t threaten from the perimeter often, but like to get to the free throw line any way possible. 6-foot-2 senior forward Aubree Johnson can lock up the paint and averages 5.8 rebounds per game. Junior guard Danielle Orsillo can provide a spark from the bench and contributes 9.9 points per game.
The Sun Devils bring their game to College Park, Maryland on Sunday March 23, as they take on the No. 11 Owls at approximately 9:30 pm. The winner of that meeting will square off against the challenger from the No. 3 Duke/No. 14 Murray State contest.
Anthony Stipa can be reached at email@example.com.
Also read: “Owls set to meet Sun Devils.”