Senior Kamesha Hairston picked up her fourth foul with 14:42 left in Temple’s game against Saint Louis Thursday.
Hoping not to sit out the majority of the final home game of her career, Hairston waved off coach Dawn Staley before Staley could call for a substitution.
“I said, “Don’t take me out,'” Hairston said. “‘This is a situation where I’m a senior and I can play through this.’ She said ‘O.K., go ahead.'”
Hairston’s prediction proved to be accurate.
The forward never picked up her fifth foul as the Owls survived a couple of late rallies to defeat the Billikens, 74-64, on senior night at the Liacouras Center.
With the win, the Owls (21-5 overall) remain undefeated in the Atlantic Ten Conference with an 11-0 record.
Hairston finished with 18 points while fellow senior Fatima Maddox notched nine points and four assists.
But Hairston and Maddox weren’t the only players to stand out in the Owls’ final home game. A pair of freshmen also decided to show off their skills on senior night.
Jasmine Stone grabbed 16 rebounds and scored nine points in 21 minutes. LaKeisha Eaddy had eight points, five assists and four steals.
Hairston said Stone and Eaddy “are like my kids.”
“They call me mom,” Hairston said. “I asked them if they could come out and play for me [this game]. If you don’t have anything else to play for, play for me. This is my last home game and it means a lot.
“I think they did a good job. I’m so proud of them.”
Maddox said she and Eaddy have improved as a backcourt duo.
“We had to develop a chemistry with each other,” Maddox said. “As the season progressed, we were playing with each other more and figuring out what each other likes [to do on the court]”
Eaddy hit a double-clutch layup in traffic to give Temple a 48-28 advantage with 16:13 left in the second half.
The Billikens (11-14, 3-8 A-10) rallied and cut the Owls’ lead to seven with less than nine minutes remaining.
But the Owls came back and embarked on an 11-0 run to take a commanding 68-49 lead with 5:12 left in the contest.
The Billikens shot 34.4 percent for the game.
Freshman Katie Paganelli led the Billikens with 18 points. She scored 15 points in the second half.
Maddox and Hairston were both presented with flowers and a framed jersey before the game started. The senior duo posed for photographs with Staley at mid-court.
Hairston was escorted by her parents.
“It was a little emotional,” Hariston said. “My teammates were over there crying a little bit, so it makes you sad.”
Maddox, who transferred to Temple from New Mexico in 2004, was escorted by junior Lady Comfort. She said the experience was “bittersweet.”
“I really feel like everyone embraced me here even though it was a short [amount of] time,” Maddox said. “I enjoyed all of it.”
The Owls hit the road to take on Charlotte (17-9, 8-3 A-10) Sunday at the Halton Arena.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.