For a while there, it looked like the women’s basketball team might repeat what happened to the men’s team on Thursday versus Saint Joseph’s: blow a big lead by failing to make free-throws.
In the end, though, the Owls won easily, defeating the Hawks, 60-48, despite letting St. Joe’s close the gap to within three points at halftime, 28-25, after holding an 11-point lead in the first half. Twice, the Hawks (11-14 overall, 3-7 A-10) climbed to within one point, and coming out of the locker room, they even tied it at 28. But the Owls (16-8 overall, 7-3 A-10) immediately went on a 26-6 run to put the game out of reach.
Of course, that score would have been even larger had the team connected on more than 53 percent of its foul shots.
“That’s just a lack of concentration on our part, to be honest with you,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “That wasn’t a blowout finish to me. The fact that we were up by 20 with about two minutes to go. We made the game look more respectable than it should have in the second half. That’s something we need to get better at – closing games out, blowing teams out when you can.”
Neither team’s leading scorer made much of an impact on the floor, as both Owls senior forward Shenita Landry and Hawks junior forward Brittany Ford spent more than half of the first half on the bench with two fouls. St. Joe’s coach Cindy Griffin waited until five minutes into the second half to put Ford back in the game, but she quickly picked up her third foul a minute later. Ford finished with four points, nine points below her season average.
“When we’re in sync and all five guys are paying attention on the floor and talking and communicating and trying to limit people and doing what they’re good at, like we know that Brittany Ford likes to get the ball in up and under, if we just stay on our feet and make it hard for her to catch the ball, [we’re fine],” Cardoza said. “Just knowing what the game plan is and sticking to it.”
In Landry’s absence, senior forward Shanea Cotton, the team’s third-leading scorer, picked up the slack, leading all players with 19 points, 10 of which came in the first half. She was the only player to score in double-digits on either team during those first 20 minutes.
“In practice, we talked about how we really have to bang the ball inside the post,” Cotton said. “And usually when Coach says, ‘Ball in the post,’ it means the ball is coming to me. So, I expected to play well, and I knew I could do that.”
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the performance came against rival St. Joe’s.
“I think the biggest thing in watching film, Shanea, the first time we played St. Joe’s, she missed a couple of easy shots, and she was down on herself and wanted to redeem herself,” Cardoza said.
With today’s victory, the Owls redeemed themselves after losing 71-60 to Massachusetts, the No.11 team in the Atlantic Ten Conference, on Wednesday.
Now, Temple will head to Charlotte this Wednesday for a match up with the No. 2 team in the A-10.
“It’s in our hands,” Cardoza said. “We’re playing against four of the best teams in the A-10. We lost some games we probably shouldn’t have lost, and we have our backs up against the wall, but we control our own destiny. If we take care of business, we should be fine. We got Xavier, Richmond, Charlotte and GW – four really good teams.”
Game Notes: Today’s game was part of the WBCA’s Pink Zone initiative, with both teams wearing pink to support breast cancer research and the Kay Yow/WBCA Cancer Fund…Double fouls were called on St. Joe’s senior guard Mary Kate McDade and Temple senior forward Shenita Landry at the 5:09 mark in the second half after the two tumbled to the court fighting for a loose ball. Landry had to be held back by junior forward Jasmine Stone…The Hawks have now lost seven games in a row to the Owls and 12 of the last 13 meetings, including a 58-53 loss back on Jan.11.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.