Call it coincidence or call it karma, but either way junior guard Shey Peddy saved the day for the Owls against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a 60-58 thriller.
“I knew if I just drove and shot it with enough time on the clock we’re going to get an offensive rebound or something good is going to happen,” Peddy said.
Peddy was the hero of the night, sinking the game-winning free throws with 2.3 seconds left in the game after getting fouled driving to the basket.
“Just put it in,” she said about her mindset at the free-throw line. “I didn’t want to have to let us go and play another five minutes. I knew if I made it we had a good chance of winning the game.”
But at one point it didn’t seem as if she would get the chance.
Peddy hit the floor hard on a drive to the basket just under five minutes into the second half and didn’t get up for several moments.
“I just remember driving and my head hit somebody’s body and my neck kind of jerked,” Peddy said.
Fortunately for the Owls, the injury was not serious and Peddy returned to the floor several minutes later and eventually made two clutch free throws to win the game.
Coach Tonya Cardoza and the rest of the team were all smiles after the game.
“This was a great game for us. This was a game that we definitely needed,” Cardoza said.
While Peddy made the critical shots at the end for the Owls she wasn’t without help. Senior guard Qwedia Wallace recorded another solid outing with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Senior forward Marli Bennett stepped up with 14 points on 5 of 7 shooting, including three buckets from three-point territory.
“We just had tremendous play from certain individuals, with Shey [Peddy] with the last play of the game and
Qwedia [Wallace] stepping in and having to run the point and knocking down shots and having to be aggressive,” Cardoza said.
It was a different story for the Scarlet Knights, however, as coach Vivian Stringer was visibly upset with her team’s performance, especially about Peddy’s drive to the basket that drew the foul shots that won the game.
“You know what, if I could do it all over again I would probably play a zone,” Stringer said.
Rutgers recorded a paltry four offensive rebounds on the night, a statistic that would haunt them in the second half as they were outscored by Temple 12-0 on second chance points.
“This is a pretty startling stat,” Stringer added. “We had four offensive rebounds. Four offensive rebounds? That’s mind blowing, I’ve never seen that.”
The Owls had another quality game from beyond the arc, as the team combined to go 10 for 24 on three-pointers. While Temple was pleased with the performance, Stringer was noticeably angry with the way her team played defense, especially against Temple’s three-point game.
“You can play defense,” Stringer said. “If you can’t play nothing else you can play defense. Trust me when I tell you that. Defense is grunt work. It’s just working. You just have to work on defense. You can be a poor offensive player and still play great defense. I know that. But you got to want to do it and you got to believe that that’s what causes you to win.”
The game proved to be a hard-fought battle between two teams that are very familiar with each other.
“I love knowing that we’re getting ready to play Rutgers, cause they’re a good team, we know they’re going to come out and fight,” Wallace said. “I think it’s a nice little rivalry we got going with them.”
The game was tough from the beginning. The teams went back and forth on the scoreboard, but the Owls went into the half down 30-25. Rutgers appeared to be taking control at that point as Temple was unable to get penetration in the paint and was forced to rely on outside shots. The Owls didn’t record a single foul shot in the first half.
It also didn’t help that Temple’s starting point guard, junior B.J. Williams, missed the game with an illness, which forced Shey to step in as the only point guard until her injury.
“[Williams] was under the weather today so we were limited to just [Peddy] as the point guard,” Cardoza said.
“So once Shey went down I thought [Wallace] did a hell-of-a job of stepping in and playing out of position and holding down the fort until Shey was able to get back in there.”
In the end it worked out. Peddy returned to the court midway through the second half with the Owls up 46-44. The team never trailed after that point. Peddy made two important free throws to retake the lead 52-50 and followed up with a lay-up with just under 3 minutes remaining. But Rutgers came roaring back to tie the game at 58 points apiece with 48 seconds left in the game.
It wasn’t enough, however, as Peddy closed the game out with her late heroics at the free throw line.
The win brings the Owls’ record to 3-4 after tough losses against Pepperdine and No. 13 UCLA over Thanksgiving break. Temple hits the road again as they face Auburn on Dec. 4, but tonight the focus was on the team’s dramatic win over a tough Rutgers team.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” Cardoza said. “This was a tough one for us after coming off the road games. We really needed a game like this and I’m just happy we can come away with the victory.”
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.