Temple basketball fans must be tired of hearing about Saint Joseph’s by now. But sophomore center Candice Dupree can’t get enough of the Hawks.
For the second time this season, Dupree handed St. Joe’s a demoralizing defeat with a last-second shot Thursday night. Dupree’s game-winning bucket broke a tied ballgame to give Temple (17-8 overall, 13-1 Atlantic Ten Conference) a dramatic 58-56 victory at the Liacouras Center.
“First time, game-winning shot; second time, game-winning shot,” said Dupree, who lifted the Owls to a 62-61 overtime win at Saint Joseph’s earlier this year with a last-second basket.
The Hawks (15-9 overall, 9-4 A-10) caused fits for Owls’ starting point guard Cynthia Jordan and the Temple offense throughout the first half and into the late stages of the second.
The Owls seemed similarly confounded on defense. On a given possession, Temple defenders could be seen chasing their opponents around a complex system of screens that resulted in open look after open look for the Hawks.
“They made us think,” coach Dawn Staley said after the game. “They sagged off somewhat, then they would pressure. They made us make a decision, and a lot of times we would hesitate coming off screens, and we were second-guessing shooting the basketball.”
“You have to be definitive against a team like St. Joe’s, and we weren’t doing that early on.”
Temple trailed 51-43 with less than six minutes to play when Jordan and senior guard Christena Hamilton sparked a 15-5 run. The crowd at the Liacouras Center erupted when Jordan found Hamilton for a game-tying layup with 51 seconds left.
Then, after regaining possession off a steal by freshman forward Kamesha Hairston, the Owls worked the ball to Dupree in the post. With time ticking away and the game knotted up, Dupree attempted a heavily contested short jumper that found net with five seconds remaining.
The Hawks were unable to move the ball upcourt to get off a decent shot before the final buzzer.
With the win, the Owls clinched the A-10 East Division, automatically giving them a first-round bye in the conference tournament next weekend at St. Joe’s.
Temple Tops Fordham, 67-56
On Sunday at Fordham, Dupree began the game showing little evidence that she had been a late-game hero just three nights before. The Rams held Dupree to just two points through the first 20 minutes and led by 11 points at halftime.
The Owls opened the second half with a 13-1 run, while Fordham could not connect on a field goal for the first nine and a half minutes of the half. Dupree bounced back from a poor first half by scoring 20 second-half points. Temple’s ability to protect the ball proved crucial in the 67-56 win as the Owls committed just 10 turnovers, tying the team’s season-low total for the third time this season.
Jordan Out; Jordan Back
Freshman guard Britney Jordan was absent from Temple’s bench during the Saint Joseph’s game. The Owls’ leading scorer off the bench, who averages 7.1 points per game, was suspended for unspecified reasons.
“She broke a team rule,” Staley said. “It was a coach’s decision not the play her.”
Jordan returned to action on Sunday against Fordham, scoring seven points in 14 minutes. Staley decided on the one-game suspension, and said she considered the matter to be over.
Temple hosts La Salle Explorers in a Big Five matchup at the Liacouras Center tonight. A victory over La Salle (13-11, 6-8 A-10) would maintain the Owls’ current momentum and stretch their winning streak to seven.
Benjamin Wantanabe can be reached at email@example.com.