Despite playing in the biggest storm of the heaviest winter in Philadelphia history, junior forward Shaqwedia Wallace and the women’s basketball team stayed hot, defeating Massachusetts, 66-54, on Wednesday night.
The Owls fell behind quickly off of a three-pointer by UMass junior guard Megan Zullo but quickly bounced back. The Cherry and White took the lead with little more than 18 minutes remaining in the first half and never trailed again.
That’s not to say the game wasn’t competitive.
Led by guard Diatema Hill’s 18 points, the Minutemen rallied to bring the score to 27-22 at halftime. Another three-pointer by Zullo 25 seconds into the second half cut the lead to two.
Sophomore forward Kristen McCarthy answered the call for the Owls, making consecutive shots from beyond the arc to give the Owls an eight point lead. Temple broke away for good with a 10-0 run halfway through the second half, putting the score at 54-34.
The Cherry and White shot 48.3 percent in the second half after shooting 38.5 percent in the opening 20 minutes. The difference between the two halves was largely intensity, Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza said.
“I thought in the second half we came out with a lot of fire,” Cardoza said. “I thought we picked up our defensive intensity to make some shots. We were able to get some wide open threes. I thought, defensively, that we really did create some easy opportunities for ourselves.”
Wallace, coming off the bench for the seventh straight game, led all scorers with 22 points while hitting four three-point attempts. Wallace’s offensive prowess is something that the Owls are going to need if they hope to stay successful, Cardoza said.
“We need that offensive weapon,” Cardoza said. “After a while if [Wallace isn’t] shooting the ball or making shots, people are going to sag in and not let Jasmine [Stone] or Tasha [Thames] get shots in by the basket. It was good to see her looking to shoot the ball. She shot the ball really well.”
The Owls outrebounded UMass, 42-26. Due to their domination of the boards, the Cherry and White had 23 second chance points. The Minutemen, by comparison, had 10.
Senior guard Kristie Watkins-Day, starting in place of the injured BJ Williams, scored seven points in the win. McCarthy scored 13 points while grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists.
Temple returns to the court on Saturday night against Charlotte. The 49ers eliminated the Owls in last year’s Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament. As the first half of a doubleheader, the game is set for a 1pm tipoff.
Game Notes: Williams, out with a strained calf, sat out her second consecutive game. She’s expected to return for Saturday’s game against Charlotte…The Minutemen shot 90 percent from the free-throw line…Senior forward Jasmine Stone filled up the stat sheet, scoring four points to go along with seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three steals in only 17 minutes of play.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org