Owls take down La Salle

Eleven is the number.

With a 62-55 win over La Salle Wednesday night at the Liacouras Center, the women’s basketball team reached its 11th win of the season and its 11th straight win over the Explorers.

The win also earned the Owls a share of the 2009 Big Five Title. Temple (11-6 overall, 3-1 Atlantic Ten Conference) has won the last six titles and six in the previous eight years.

Trailing by three, Temple went on 14-0 run half way through first half to take a 25-14 lead.

The Explorers (9-10, 0-4) cut the lead to eight at the half, but the Owls dominated most of the frame holding the Explorers to 38 percent shooting.

The Owls were no better- 39 percent from the field- but were 4-7 from behind the arc and out-rebounded the Explorers 22-14 in the half.

“We were really excited about this game. Sometimes when the adrenaline is pumping, you get a little too fast,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “One thing they need to realize is that it won’t happen in 5 minutes- it’s a 40 minute game.”

The Owls were led by their veteran leaders. Senior forward Shenita Landry led the Owls with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard LaKeisha Eaddy contributed 13 points along with eight assists, four rebounds and two steals.

“I see openings,” Eaddy said. “It allows me to see the floor and find my teammates. I am the point guard and I have to take responsibility.”

Cardoza called Landry the team’s “superhero.”

“She’s the heart and soul of our team,” Cardoza said. “She’s going to go out and do all the dirty work and expect her teammates to do the same.”

Shaqwedia Wallace added 14 points for the Owls as Temple had three players in double figures in scoring.

“I thought Qwedia did a great job coming off the bench and giving us that spark,” Cardoza said.

Wallace said that she embraces her role off the bench.

“I like being able to come out and build off what the starters have done,” the sophomore guard said.

The Owls struggled out of the gate in second half as the Explorers cut the Temple lead to four. But the Owls offense quickly came back to life as they responded with an 8-2 run to take a 41-33 lead.

After that, Temple and LaSalle traded baskets and LaSalle got the lead down to two points. Both teams shot 52 percent from the field in the second half.

Senior forward Shanea Cotton converted on a three-point play that put the Owls up by eight. From there the Owls never looked back, pushing their lead to 11, en route to a seven-point win.

LaSalle junior guard Jamie Walsh- who scored the first eight of 10 points for LaSalle- finished with a team-high 13 points. Senior guard Margaret Elderton added five points, six rebounds and nine assists for the Explorers.

After giving up 70-plus points for three consecutive games, the Owls have held their opponents to under 60 points in the past five contests.

“I definitely think they are buying into what the coaches are trying to bring,” Cardoza said. “We are a very unselfish team. I think we work extremely hard.”

The Owls return to action this Saturday against St. Bonaventure in Olean, N.Y.

Pete Dorchak can be reached at pdorchak@temple.edu.

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