WASHINGTON — Step one for the NCAA Tournament hopes of the women’s basketball team was beating No.13 Xavier Wednesday night for a signature victory over a ranked opponent.
Step two came this afternoon when the Owls defeated George Washington, 59-49, to secure the No.2 seed in the Atlantic Ten Conference and a first-round bye in next weekend’s A-10 Tournament. With the victory, Temple moved to 20-8 overall and 11-3 in the A-10 and extended its winning streak to five. The Owls handed GW (17-12, 9-5 A-10) its first loss in a Senior Day game since 1992.
The first half featured a series of runs by both teams, as Temple followed a 3-0 start by the Colonials with a 10-0 run for a 10-3 lead. The Colonials quickly answered back, scoring 17 of the next 24 points before Temple tied it up at 23-23 at the four-minute mark. The Owls closed out the first 20 minutes of action with a 7-0 run to take a 30-23 lead into the locker room.
Neither team shot particularly well in the first half, as Temple connected on only 35.7 percent of its field goals, and George Washington made just 9-of-35 or 25.7 percent. The Colonials finished the game at 26.2 percent, after attempting 61 shots and hitting 16.
“All I remember is the shots they made,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “It seems like they made 1,000 offensive rebounds.”
“The basket seemed like it was extremely small and on a swivel today,” GW senior center Jessica Adair said. “The shots just weren’t falling.”
And even though they weren’t falling for the Owls either, Temple attempted 11 free throws to the Colonials’ three in the first half. Senior forward Shenita Landry made all six of her tries in the first half and nine of 10 overall. She ended the game with 15 points, tied with freshman forward Kristen McCarthy for the most in the game.
With fellow senior forward Shanea Cotton picking up two fouls seven minutes into the game, junior forward Jasmine Stone stepped up, scoring 10 points, grabbing eight rebounds and guarding George Washington’s leading scorer, Adair, who scored only six points in the first half and picked up two fouls of her own. Adair finished the game with 12 points, almost two points below her season average.
“Jas said to me before the Xavier game, ‘Coach, you need to play me more or play me and Shanea or Shenita together more,’” Cardoza said. “And she’s proved I need to play her. She’s backed up what she said. She was just as big [as Jessica Adair], not as wide but just as long. She got her into early foul trouble and pushed her off the block today.”
Landry made her first two field goals to start the second half and give the Owls their largest lead of the game, 37-26.
Eleven points was the largest the margin would be, as after Temple held a 41-30 lead with 11:53 remaining in the second half, GW went on a 14-7 run.
After an Owls shot clock violation with 4:43 left in the contest, the Colonials closed to within two points, 46-44, before Landry hit a jumper and McCarthy nailed a 3-pointer. Stone and junior point guard LaKeisha Eaddy added two layups to extend the 9-1 Temple run.
“They backed up off me, and my teammates said, ‘Shoot it,’ so I did and it went in,” McCarthy said. “I’m playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
The Colonials scored four points after that Temple run, but it ultimately wasn’t enough, as sophomore guard Lindsay Kimmel and Landry hit free throws to seal the game.
“I thought we had one run left in us,” GW coach Mike Bozeman said, “because we were still so close in the game. We were only four field goals away from the 20 Temple made. It was the worst game we’ve ever played, and we were only down seven at the half. I don’t think it would’ve taken a miracle to win this one.”
With the loss, GW drops to fifth place in the A-10 Conference – the first time it’s ended the regular season below second place since the 1989-1990 season.
Temple will return to action on Saturday, March 7 in Charlotte, N.C. They will play the winner of the No. 7 seed vs. No. 10 seed matchup.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at email@example.com.