Owls hang on as halftime lead vanishes

The women’s basketball team almost let a victory slip away against Drexel Friday night.

But it didn’t happen, thanks in part to a clutch, game-ending performance from an energetic, 6-foot-3 freshman.

The Owls squandered a 15-point halftime lead and fell behind by a point with less than three minutes remaining.

But they embarked on a 13-1 run in the game’s closing moments to defeat the Dragons, 61-50, in their season opener at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on Drexel’s campus.

Freshman forward Jasmine Stone hit a crucial lay-up to put the Owls (1-0) up 52-49 with 1:31 left, then blocked three shots in the span of 36 seconds to help secure the victory. Stone finished the game with nine points and 13 rebounds.

“Jasmine did a great job on the boards and blocking key shots that could’ve tied the game up again,” said senior Kamesha Hairston, who had 18 points and six rebounds.

Coach Dawn Staley said she was encouraged by Stone’s debut.

“[She] played well down the stretch and I thought she did a good job blocking shots and getting rebounds,” Staley said.

“I think that’s where she’s going to make her mark early [in her career]. We’ll work on the offensive part and getting her to calm down and score some buckets, but her energy – she has a different type of energy then probably anybody we’ve ever had on our team.”

After playing from behind the entire game, the Dragons (0-3) mounted a furious comeback in the second half and took a one-point lead on a three-point basket by freshman guard Alison Lupariello with 2:21 remaining.

“I don’t think we understand how to put teams away [yet],” Owls head coach Dawn Staley said. “We’re just inexperienced. Some of these players haven’t been in this situation before, but that’s no excuse.”

The Owls regained the lead when Hairston hit a lay-up from an assist from junior center Lady Comfort to make the game 50-49.

Temple sealed the victory with a pair of lay-ups from Stone and fellow freshman LaKeisha Eaddy and a string of free throws from senior Fatima Maddox.

The Owls shot 30.8 percent from the field in the second half, but made up for it on the defensive end, where they held the Dragons to 28 percent clip.

“It was a good test,” Hairston said. “This is a young team. [This game] was a test to see if we were able to pull it together and come back, which we did.”

Tyson McCloud can be reached at tyson@temple.edu.

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