Strong fourth-quarter leads women’s basketball to Big 5 win

Temple outscored St Joseph’s 13-7 in the final seven minutes in its 58-52 victory at Hagan Arena on Friday.

Sophomore forward Mia Davis grabs a loose ball in Temple's 58-52 win against St. Joseph's on Friday at Hagan Arena. | JUSTIN OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Hagan Arena crowd quieted for a rare moment at the end of the second half.

Temple University junior forward Shannen Atkinson hit her second free throw to give Temple a two-possession lead with seven seconds left.

Atkinson’s free throw helped Temple (2-0) secure a 58-52 win against Big 5 rival Saint Joseph’s on Friday. The Owls earned the victory in their first road game of the season.

At times, Saint Joseph’s fan base made it difficult for the Owls to hear each other and communicate on the court toward the end of the game before they iced it late.

“It’s always a great environment, and it’s always a great game,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “It doesn’t matter the situation, one team being better than the other, it’s always down to the wire with these two teams.”

Temple opened the game with a 9-0 run, but the game was tied at the end of the first half. At the start of the fourth quarter, Temple led by six points, but the Hawks evened the score with seven minutes remaining.

After Saint Joseph’s tied the game, sophomore guard Desiree Oliver scored five points and blocked a 3-point shot in the final 10 seconds. Oliver ended the night with a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds.

“I just want to focus on contributing wherever I can, whether it’s rebounding, scoring or assists,” Oliver said.

“[Oliver] did a really good job of attacking, being aggressive on the offensive end,” Cardoza said. “Down the stretch, we needed those two buckets that she just went, put the team on her back and tried to score for us.”

Temple’s offense struggled to adapt to the Hawks’ zone defense throughout the game. The Hawks’ zone forced Temple to settle for 3-point attempts “that weren’t falling,” Cardoza said. The Owls finished with a 37.9 shooting percentage and a 25 percent clip from 3-point range.

“It was a little hard to adjust to, but after a while, we started rotating the ball more,” sophomore forward Mia Davis said. “We found the gaps and the open people.”

Davis added 12 points to tie graduate student guard Alliya Butts as the Owls’ second-leading scorer. Davis scored eight of Temple’s 30 points in the paint and collected five rebounds.

Defensively, Temple limited the Hawks to 5-for-17 from beyond the arc and a 36.7 overall shooting percentage.

“I think coming in, we knew that they wanted to shoot threes, and I feel like we did a pretty good job stopping them on that,” Oliver said. “I think there were a couple times where we got caught, but overall, I think we did good.”

Next, Temple will face the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi, on Wednesday. The matchup will be the second of the Owls’ six consecutive road games. The Rebels beat Temple, 64-48, on Nov. 25, 2017.

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