It’s safe to say when Lady Comfort starts shooting – and nailing – three-pointers for the women’s basketball team, the rout is on.
The 6-foot-2 junior center squared up from beyond the arc and sank the first three-point shot of her career midway through the second half of the Owls’ 78-35 win over Western Michigan at the Liacouras Center Tuesday.
“[Coach] told me to shoot it if I was open and if they weren’t guarding me,” Comfort said. “I shoot them all the time in practice just to be funny and stuff.
“I can shoot. Its just I’d rather leave it to the guards to shoot the three’s and I’ll shoot the lay-ups.”
The Owls (6-4) shot plenty of lay-ups throughout the game, thanks to its stingy defense which held the Broncos (5-7) to only 10 points in the second half.
“This team has really made a conscious effort to play a certain way defensively,” coach Dawn Staley said.
Temple scored 23 points off the turnovers its defense created.
“Defense is the foundation of Temple,” senior Kamesha Hairston said. “That’s what Coach preaches all the time and now we’re starting to understand that. That’s how it should be every game.”
Comfort, who later hoisted up a second three-point attempt which clanked off the back of the rim, managed to steal the spotlight from two of the nation’s top scorers.
Hairston ranks fourth in the nation in scoring with 22.3 points per game and Broncos guard Carrie Moore tops the country with 27.9 points per contest.
After missing a couple of lay-ups early, Comfort found her touch on offense and finished the game with 22 points and seven rebounds.
“In the second half I calmed down, relaxed and shots just started falling,” Comfort said.
The Broncos employed a zone defense and double-teamed Hairston each time she touched the ball. Despite the pressure, Hairston still scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting and hauled in 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season.
Fatima Maddox scored 11 points and LaKeisha Eaddy chipped in with 10.
“They stepped up and played well,” Hairston said of her teammates. “The [Broncos] kept like three people on me and the rest of the guys just knocked down shots and that’s the way it should be.”
Moore, who struggled to find her shot all night, finished with a season-low six points on 1-of-13 shooting.
Eaddy defended Moore for the majority of the game and gave the senior guard fits throughout the contest.
Staley said the Owls didn’t want the nation’s leading scorer to get anywhere near her average.
“That was important for us to win the basketball game,” Staley said. “I thought LaKeisha did a great job with pretty much shutting her down.”
Eaddy made Moore work for her shot. Moore scored all four of her points in the first half from the free throw line and didn’t hit a shot from the field until the 11:18 mark in the second half.
“[Moore] is a great player,” she said. “But we did what we were supposed to do [on defense] tonight.”
The Owls held a 10-point lead at halftime, although each team shot only 33.3 percent from the field.
But the Owls came out on fire in the second half. The team embarked on a 21-2 run after intermission to take a 56-27 advantage with 11:30 remaining in the game.
The Broncos trailed by 27 or more for the rest of the contest.
FORMER OWL ARRESTED
Former Temple basketball player Pam Balogh was arrested Thursday and charged with sexually assaulting a former player at a school where she once coached, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Saturday.
Balogh, 39, a member of the Temple women’s basketball Hall of Fame who played for the Owls from 1986 to 1989, was jailed in Somerset, N.J., on Thursday night and released after she posted $100,000 bail.
Balogh is accused of assaulting a girl on the basketball team at Immaculata High in Somerville, N.J. She left Immaculata in September 2005 and moved to North Hunterdon High in Clinton Township, N.J., that fall. There, she was a physical education teacher and field hockey coach.
The Bridgewater Courier News reported that the alleged victim, a 17-year-old female, told investigators the sexual assaults began in December 2004 and continued through September 2005. Most of the alleged abuse took place in the coach’s office, the Courier reported.
North Hunterdon principal Michael Hughes said Balogh had been suspended with pay pending resolution of the investigation, the Inquirer reported.
The Owls begin a three-game road trip Friday at Villanova (4-6 overall, 0-1 Big East Conference). The team then takes on Penn (3-4) and Florida (5-6) following a six-day holiday break.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.