Senior guard Shey Peddy shook off a slow first half and a head injury to lead the No. 2 seeded Owls to a comeback victory against the upset-minded Duquesne Dukes at St. Joseph’s Hagan Arena in the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament second round on Saturday. The Massachusetts native had three points in the first half, but exploded for 27 second-half points, securing a 64-55 win and a trip to the semi-finals.
“I think in the first half we were nervous and had jitters,” Peddy said. “At halftime we settled down and came out in the second and played the way we know how to play.”
The first half was 20 minutes of frustration for the Owls as a team. Their two leading scorers, Peddy and senior guard Kristen McCarthy, combined to shoot 0-9 from the field and 3-6 from the free throw line for a combined three points. As a team, the Owls committed five more turnovers (12) than they made field goals (seven).
Duquesne’s zone defense threw Temple out of rhythm and held them to 7-24 shooting. Duquesne didn’t take full advantage though as they committed 10 turnovers of their own and shot 9-22, keeping the game close. Both teams shooting woes started early as Temple failed to score for a five-minute span early in the half until senior guard BJ Williams ended the drought with a pair of free throws. Willams ended the first half with a team-high eight points.
Freshman guard Rateska Brown provided the lone bright spot, coming off the bench to score seven quick points without missing a shot for the Owls. Sophomore guard Orsi Szecsi led the Dukes with a game-high nine points at the half as her team held a 25-24 lead.
“In the first half I felt like I was trying to do too much. I just needed to let my game come to me instead of rushing and I was getting frustrated with myself,” Peddy said.
The first-half jitters for Temple seemed to linger into the second as Duquesne slowly built on their lead pushing it as high as 39-31 five minutes into the half. But that would be as big of a lead as Duquesne would see. Peddy hit her first field goal of the game, a made three-pointer, at the 13:00 mark, sparking a momentum shift. Another Peddy trey and a Williams jumper gave the Cherry and White the lead and it would be the final lead change of the game. Peddy left the game momentarily after she slid into the bleachers head-first. She returned to hit two more threes and an and-1.
Before Duquesne had time to counter, Temple had gone on a 20-5 run and a fourth Peddy three-pointer pushed the lead to 54-46. The recently-named A-10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year continued to find a way into the paint and went 11-11 from the free throw line in the second half. She finished with 30 points on only six made field goals and also helped out the frontcourt with 8 rebounds.
The statistics that stood out according to Duquesne coach Suzie McConnell-Serio was that Temple outrebounded Duquesne on the offensive end 19-7 and Temple scored 19 second-chance points to Duquesne’s four. Sophomore forward Wumi Agunbiade led the Dukes with 21 points.
The Owls will face the winner of Dayton/Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon.
“I’m just happy to survive and advance, that’s what March Madness is all about,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at email@example.com.