Christopher A. Vito
Just call them the cardiac kids. For coach Dawn Staley and her squad, close games have come all too often this season.
In an Atlantic Ten tournament semifinal game against Richmond Sunday at Saint Joseph’s Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, the Owls managed to pull out yet another come-from-behind victory, 64-62.
In their only meeting of the regular season, the Owls ousted the Spiders by the same amount in overtime.
After sinking the first basket of the game, Temple (20-9) saw Richmond score 10 straight points.
Although Richmond (20-9) staked an early lead, the game went back and forth. There were 16 lead changes and seven ties throughout the contest. The Owls held a thin, 31-30 lead at halftime. The game turned into a physical battle, with the teams combining for 35 fouls.
Temple’s sophomore center Candice Dupree, who finished with a game-high 20 points, was not the only Owl in foul trouble, but she demanded Staley’s close attention.
“We’ve been dealing with [foul trouble] all year,” Staley said. “I don’t think the officials decided the game but I would not want to be an official reffing this type of game.”
Dupree fouled out with less than a minute remaining. Without her services, Staley had to shake up the lineup. She called a timeout four seconds later to reconfigure her rotation.
On their ensuing trip down the court, the Owls’ game plan was to get the ball to freshman guard Britney Jordan coming off a double screen. But with junior guard Cynthia Jordan wide open on the perimeter, she took the shot instead, and missed. But senior forward Tynecia Pam took on the role of the unlikely hero, snatching the offensive rebound and dropping in a layup with 31 seconds to play, giving the Owls the go-ahead bucket.
“We were going to toss the ball inside to Tynecia but she got double and triple teamed,” Staley said. “Tynecia got the offensive rebound which she has done for us all year. I screamed at her the play before and she looked like she was going to buckle…but she got us the bucket.”
Temple forward Ari Moore blocked a short jumper on Richmond’s ensuing possession to seal the victory.
“I have never seen anyone block a shot and not get up off the floor,” Staley said. “Ari played extremely well for us tonight. She played like a leader.”
Cynthia Jordan chipped in 11 points and Moore added 10 for the Owls.
Pacing the Spiders was Saona Chapman with a team-high 17 points. She was one of four Richmond players to score in double digits.
With little time to spare, the Owls will face St. Joseph’s on its home court in Monday’s championship. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.
In two regular season meetings, the Hawks were clipped by the late-game heroics of Dupree, giving Temple a season sweep.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at DolphinsFan1085@aol.com.