A strong inside presence by Temple doomed Farleigh Dickinson on Tuesday night. Temple improves to 5-1 on the season with the 70-56 win.
Junior college transfer Athena Christoforakis led the way with 18 points and ten boards and fellow post player Lisa Jakubowicz added 11.
Temple was without the help of point guard Stacey Smalls, who was sick and Christena Hamilton with an injury.
Even without the two, Temple was able to apply fierce defensive pressure and the Knights only shot 31.7 percent from the field. Temple forced 23 turnovers and outrebounded Farleigh Dickinson, 41-38.
The Owls led by as many as 28 in the second half as the Knights were unable to stop Christoforakis and Jakubowicz.
Christoforakis has been a force this season for the Owls, second on the team in rebounds with 29. She has had to do it all off the bench behind junior Lisa Jakubowicz. The two have been impressive taking care of opponents in the paint.
Farleigh Dickinson was led by Tommica Woods and Courtney Tierney who both scored eight points in the loss, their fifth of the season.
Graham Leaning To Virginia
It looks like Temple is going to lose out on a recruit because of their two top coaches.
It had been rumored that Cherrise Graham, currently out of basketball after leaving Purdue on Nov. 29, would be coming home to play for Temple. Graham, who was a prep star at Archbishop Carroll High School in nearby Conshohocken, was one of the nation’s top high school recruits last year.
After only five games with the Boilermakers, Graham left the team. Graham will most likely wind up at the University of Virginia. The same Virginia team that was the home to Temple coaches Dawn Staley and Shawn Campbell.
Staley was an All-American at Virginia and Campbell was an assistant coach there for 15 seasons. During his tenure, the program went to 15 consecutive post season tournaments. Campbell is credited as one of the top women’s assistants in the country and helped to spread the word to recruits, including Staley and Graham.
Now the work that the two new Temple coaches have done may have helped Graham decide away from Temple.
“I want to go to Virginia,” Graham told the Inquirer’s Todd Zolecki. “I think I wanted to go to Virginia even when I committed to Purdue. I think that was always in my gut, that I should have gone there.”
Graham, a 5-foot-7 guard, said that she was not happy with her coach. At Purdue, ranked no. 6 nationally, Graham averaged 6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 17 minutes per game in five games.
“It wasn’t right for me,” Graham said. “I was just unhappy.”
Now the Temple women’s basketball program will be unhappy that it lost one of the nation’s top recruits thanks in part to its own coaching staff and the positives they’ve done in the past.
TOPPING THE A-10
Temple, off to its best start since 1985, has been one of the best in the conference this season as well. The Owls lead the Atlantic 10 in steals (16) and rebound margin (+10.2) per game.
The Owls are second in the conference in assists per game (17.6), scoring offense and scoring defense. Plus, Temple’s .800 winning percentage is tied at the top with Xavier. Cincinnati upset Xavier, ranked 19th in the nation, on Tuesday night.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Stacey Smalls. Soph., PG.
Smalls led the way with 14 points in Temple’s first Big Five win of the season last Saturday over Penn. Her full court pressure took the Quakers out of the game as did her career-high seven steals. She also had three assists in 27 minutes of action. Smalls missed Tuesday night’s game due to illness.