NORFOLK, Va. — By limiting star guard to Dawn Evans to 18 points on 30 percent shooting, senior guard LaKeisha Eaddy and the women’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament on Sunday, defeating James Madison, 65-53.
Evans, who came into the game third in the nation at 24.8 points per game, shot 6-for-20 from the field, including a pedestrian 2-for-9 from three-point range. Temple’s uniqueness on defense was to blame for the performance, JMU coach Kenny Brooks said.
“We knew that they were a good, defensive team,” Brooks said. “They’re extremely long. They’re extremely long and they’re extremely physical. They did a really good job at hedging in on Dawn, pretty much to the point where they were double teaming her. Usually she’s able to slip some passes through, but their length made it extremely difficult.”
“I thought today we did a great job,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Dawn Evans is one of the leading scorers in the country and we held her to [18 points], but more importantly we held them. They scored 53 points and they average 71 points per game so our guys did a great job defensively. They deserve all the credit.”
While Brooks and Evans were both quick to praise Eaddy on her defensive prowess, it was more of a team effort that limited the junior guard, Cardoza said.
“It was a team effort,” Cardoza said. “All 12 guys had to do a good job of guarding her. To be honest, not only did [Eaddy] do a good job, but I thought our post players did too…We thought it was really important for our post players to step up and make themselves big. That was probably more important than what [Eaddy] sitting down there and guarding. Every single post player shored themselves in and made it difficult for her to shoot coming off screens.”
Temple started the game off on a 17-6 run before James Madison answered back with a 13-6 run of their own to enter halftime down, 23-19. Even though the Dukes closed the gap before half, that initial run plagued them for the rest of the game, Brooks said.
“We didn’t adjust to the style of the game,” Brooks said. “We allowed Temple to get out to a very sizable lead, which we felt like we were trying to dig ourselves out of for the rest of the basketball game. But, we never quit. We kept going, kept fighting and kept it close.”
The Owls led by as many as 14 in the first half, but never seemed able to put the Dukes away until late in regulation. Junior forward Wallace scored 14 of her points in the second half, helping to give the Owls that final push that put them over the edge. Wallace, who started the season as Temple’s leading scorer before being relegated to the bench, led all scorers with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting.
“I just went out there and tried to be aggressive,” Wallace said.” It feels good to get this win and get to the second round.”
Sophomore forward Kristen McCarthy scored 15 points for the Owls, as did Eaddy. The Owls shot 42.1 percent from the field, including a stellar 53.6 percent in the second half.
The Owls will face No. 1 seed Connecticut on Tuesday at 7pm. Temple coach Tonya Cardoza spent 14 at UConn before accepting the Temple job. The Huskies have won 73 straight games, beating the record of 70 that their own program held. The connection between the two coaches has little affect on the game itself, Cardoza said.
“I don’t know any of their tricks,” Cardoza said. “To be honest, I haven’t watched them a lot this year. Yeah, I know they have a streak, but if you asked me what the number was, I don’t know.”
Tipoff is set for 7pm at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, VA. The game will be aired nationally on ESPN2.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at email@example.com