The women’s basketball team started off cold, got hot, took control, then lost it and yet somehow managed to pull away in the final seconds in a narrow victory over Atlantic Ten Conference rival Duquesne.
Thanks to 22 points and 11 rebounds from senior guard Shey Peddy the Owls held on for a 67-64 win that brings their record to 9-8, and 3-1 in the A-10. It is their first time with a winning record since Temple was 2-1 on Nov. 18 following a loss to No. 24 Ohio State.
“Obviously, that was a heck of a game,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.
The Owls were without starting junior forward Brittany Lewis, who was out with an undisclosed sickness. Cardoza was forced to start freshman Tyonna Williams as the third guard and move senior guard Kristen McCarthy to forward. Temple was left with just three true post players— junior center Victoria Macaulay, and senior center Joelle Connelly and sophomore forward Nikki Works coming off the bench.
“It hurt us a lot, because we’re already short in the post position,” Peddy said.
“[Williams] actually made it so that it didn’t hurt us,” Cardoza said. “[She] played with a lot of confidence, she was attacking, being aggressive on defense.”
Surprisingly, senior guard BJ Williams and Peddy made a point to feed a short-staffed front court the ball early and often. Macaulay had six points, as the guards consistently fed her the ball, and she made plays on the boards, matching her A-10 season average with 11 more rebounds on the night. She came into the night leading the conference in rebounds per game in in-conference games.
“It’s just what we saw on the court,” BJ Williams said. “[Macaulay] can make layups and she can get shots all day and it’s just about her having that confidence.”
The Owls also struggled at times with the Dukes’ full-court press, committing an uncharacteristic 23 turnovers, including five from BJ Williams.
“It was me, obviously,” she said. “[The turnovers] that I had were just me not using my head. At the end of the first half I started to see things and things started to open up more, and everybody became an option.”
The Owls opened up in a 2-8 hole, before mounting a comeback. But Temple was unable to take control of the game for much of the first half. After falling behind 17-24 with seven minutes remaining, the Owls went on a 14-2 run before closing the half with a 35-29 lead.
Another 5-2 run to start the second half for the Owls was quickly squandered as the Dukes made the game close once again and took the lead 49-48 after a layup by sophomore forward Wumi Agunbiade. Duquesne, however, was unable to maintain the momentum and Temple pulled away again with a 65-58 lead with just 35 seconds remaining.
But costly mistakes by the Owls gave new life to the Dukes, who went on a 6-0 in the next 25 seconds to pull within one before Peddy iced the game with two free throws on a 1-and-1.
“We had a pretty comfortable, I thought, lead down the stretch and we made some unnecessary, inexcusable plays where we’re stopping the clock and allowing them to set their pressure,” Cardoza said.
The Owls got a very strong performance from their three-headed attack of McCarthy, BJ Williams and Peddy. The trio combined for 47 points, 22 of the team’s 43 rebounds, and nine of the team’s 12 assists.
The win gives Temple new life in the early goings of the A-10 season, as they climbed from fifth to third in the standings with losses by Richmond (2-2 A-10) and La Salle (3-1 A-10). The win is the second hard fought victory after a tough loss to 4-0 St. Bonaventure on Jan. 11. The Owls knocked down co-A-10 favorite Dayton (3-1 A-10) on Saturday.
“It means a lot, because these are two of the tougher teams in our conference,” Cardoza said. “They have been for the last few years. So to be able to beat [Duquesne] on our home court, and to beat Dayton on theirs, that says a lot.”
The Owls return to action on Saturday in McGonigle Hall against Big 5 rival Penn. Temple lost to Villanova on Dec. 22 in their only Big 5 match this season, and will face St. Joseph’s and La Salle in the last two games of the year.
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.