It was all or nothing in the end when it came to the Atlantic 10 Conference Women’s Basketball Championship.
And in the end, Temple came up short of its goal.
After a strong late-season run, Temple ran into George Washington in the A-10 semis on March 8.
The Colonials fended off the Owls, 64-59, assuring coach Dawn Staley’s squad that it would not make a second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament.
Temple finished the season with a 14-15 record.
Entering the A-10 tournament, Temple knew it was a win or go home situation.
The team took that urgency and turned it into a win against Richmond in the second round of the A-10 tourney.
As was the pattern this season, the game against Richmond came down to the very last shot, made by senior Chrissy Cruz with less than a second to play.
This situation was nothing new to the Owls, having lost to Richmond in overtime back in January.
The key pieces that kept Temple from exiting in the quarterfinals were junior Christena Hamilton and sophomore Cynthia Jordan, who each had 10 points.
The most significant factors was the team’s cohesiveness.
The Owls outrebounded Richmond, 39-35, posted eight steals and committed seven fewer turnovers.
Temple even capitalized at the charity stripe, connecting on all nine attempts.
In the second half of the semifinal loss to GW, the Owls pushed every cylinder they had to catch the Colonials. Senior Stacey Smalls, in what would be her last collegiate game, finished with 25 points and had only one turnover.
Junior Tynecia Pam got in the mix, adding 14 points.
But in the end, it just wasn’t enough.
The season came to an end earlier than the Owls had hoped, with not even a National Invitational Tournament (NIT) bid for post season play.
“We’re disappointed,” Pam said.
“I think we can play with the best of them.”
Looking ahead, the future seems bright for Temple, despite Smalls’ departure and the possible loss of Cruz.
If Cruz graduates this spring, she will gain the extra year of eligibility she lost as an academic non-qualifier.
With the level of play the team has experienced, and the lessons learned along the way, Temple could once again be a force in the A-10.
“All of the ups and downs prepared us for next year,” Pam said.
“Next year, they better be on the look out for us.”
Saudia Mitchell covers the women’s basketball team for The Temple News. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.