The women’s basketball team hasn’t lost a home conference game in over three years. Xavier hasn’t lost an Atlantic Ten Conference game this season.
Something had to give.
The Owls didn’t budge as they defended their home court by upsetting Xavier 74-65 Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center.
“It was big because it keeps us alive,” first-year coach Tonya Cardoza said of her team’s upset of the No. 13 Musketeers. “We knew our backs were up against the wall. I think we put ourselves in a good position for post-season play.”
While the Owls are looking forward to playing in March, it was a bittersweet win for the Owls as two of their seniors played their last games on their home court.
It was Senior Night for forwards Shenita Landry and Shanea Cotton. Landry leads the team in scoring and rebounding while also ranking 30th in the nation in rebounding. Cotton leads the team in blocks this season.
“I don’t know if I could tell my teammates thank you enough,” Cotton, who is in her second season for the Owls, said.
Temple (19-8, 10-3 A-10) came out firing in the first half as they hit six three-pointers, shooting 50 percent behind the arc. The Musketeers made only three from behind the line and the Owls went to the locker room with a 14 point lead and upset on their minds.
Xavier (24-5, 12-1 A-10) showed why they were undefeated in the conference by not going away easily. The Musketeers opened the second half with a 13-4 run, cutting the Owls lead to five.
With the game still up in the air, sophomore guard Lindsay Kimmel took over. The reserve player hit a three-pointer to put the Owls up by 12 with under ten minutes to go. Xavier cut the lead in half with 7:30 to play but it was Kimmel who again had the answer. She responded with another three-pointer to put Temple up by nine, and for good.
“They were focusing on the big guys so that left an opening for me,” said Kimmel who hit all three of her three-point attempts finishing with 9 points.
The win marks the Owls 21st straight home A-10 victory. Temple hasn’t lost a home conference game since falling to George Washington three years and a day ago. The crowd of 746 erupted in celebration as the clock struck zero and stormed the court.
“The court and home advantage is really important,” said Landry who finished with 14 points.
Landry wasn’t on the court for the final horn as she fouled out with less than four minutes remaining but she’ll gladly cheer on her teammates if it means a win.
“It really bothered me but everyone else held it together,” she said.
Landry is talking about the bench including Kimmel and junior forward Jasmine Stone who added 7 points. Sophomore guard Qwedia Wallace played 28 minutes off the bench and scored 18 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
“I thought our bench did a great job,” Cardoza said. “It’s good for them to be in this type of game.”
The Owls will be in another one of these battles Sunday afternoon when they wrap up regular season play against rival George Washington. Charlotte, who is ranked second in the conference, defeated the Colonials tonight 59-57.
That win now moves Temple into sole possession of third place in the A-10.
“It’s a definitely a game we have to win,” Cardoza said of Sunday’s contest. “I think we know that. It’s a must-win game if we want to go to post-season play.”
Pete Dorchak can be reached at email@example.com.