The women’s basketball team plays two teams it is tied with for second place in the Atlantic Ten standings. With two wins, Temple could lock up a first-round bye for the A-10 Tournament.
The women’s basketball team (19-6 overall, 8-2 Atlantic Ten Conference) has been on a roll as of late, winning nine of its last 10 games, all against A-10 opponents. Temple’s most recent win came against the defending A-10 champs, Charlotte, last Saturday.
The 79-68 win came courtesy of a career-high 42-point effort from sophomore guard Kristen McCarthy, who set new records for most individual points by a women’s basketball player in the Liacouras Center and most individual points in a game in team history.
“I just want to keep improving. I don’t want to be satisfied with anything that I do,” McCarthy said. “My goal is to play professional basketball, and while I’m here, I just want to make my teammates better and make myself better as much as I can so that we can win the A-10 and go far in the NCAA [Tournament] .”
The Owls would put themselves in good position to possibly win the A-10 or at least earn a first-round bye in the A-10 Tournament with wins against Duquesne (18-7 overall, 8-2 A-10) and Dayton (20-5 overall, 8-2 A-10), their next two opponents. Duquesne, Dayton and the Owls are in a three-way tie for second place in the conference. Temple sits two wins behind first-place Xavier (20-3 overall, 10-0 A-10), who is ranked No. 6 in the nation.
Duquesne has played better than expected this season. The Dukes were originally picked to finish sixth in the A-10 after recording their first 20-win season in program history last year. Under third-year coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, the Dukes put themselves on the women’s basketball map after upsetting cross-town rival and then-No. 20 Pittsburgh, 72-63, back in December. Pitt has gone to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 the last two seasons.
Leading the Dukes are redshirt junior forward Samantha Pollino and senior guard Keri Pryor, who average 12.7 and 12.3 points per game, respectively. Another double-digit scorer for the Dukes is sophomore forward Alex Gensler, who averages 11.6 points per game.
While the Dukes have the third-ranked scoring offense in the A-10 and average 66.2 points per game, they rank near the bottom in scoring defense, as they allow 63.7 points per game.
Tipoff is Wednesday at noon at the Liacouras Center. It will be Temple’s School Day Game and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Pink Zone game to show support for the fight against breast cancer.
Saturday, Temple faces another high-powered offensive team on the road in Dayton. The Flyers average 71.4 points per game, just 1.7 points behind top-ranked Xavier. Dayton began its season with a 77-74 upset of then-No. 10 Michigan State and is currently riding a four-game winning streak.
Leading the Flyers are sophomore forward Justine Raterman, who averages 11.7 points per game, and junior guard Kristen Daugherty, who averages 9.6 points per game and has surpassed 1,000 career points this season.
A win against either or both of these teams could clinch Temple’s spot among the Top 4 teams in the A-10. The Top 4 teams receive a first-round bye in the A-10 Tournament.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at email@example.com.