Bench play has been a important element to the women’s basketball team’s winning ways this season. On Sunday at Richmond, the Owls could not muster any points from their bench players, as their reserves were outscored by 26 points.
The Owls’ four-game win streak was snapped as they ran into some offensive problems in their 56-54 Atlantic Ten Conference loss to the Spiders.
The 23d-ranked Owls struggled early and did so throughout the contest.
It took nearly four minutes and five offensive possessions before junior forward Kamesha Hairston sunk a jump shot to get the Owls on the scoreboard.
Their defense held the Spiders without a field goal over a four-minute stretch, as well.
The Owls (18-6, 9-3 A-10) went on a 10-0 run to go ahead by 19-9. Once again, they stepped up their defense to keep Richmond without a basket for seven minutes toward the end of the first half.
The Owls did not shoot particularly well, hitting just 10-of-32 first-half shots, but they were able to enter the intermission with a 23-15 lead.
The second half opened with Hairston hitting a three-pointer to push the Owls’ lead to 11 points.
But their lead did not stand.
Despite the efforts of junior point guard Fatima Maddox, who contributed 11 points down the stretch, the Owls’ scoring advantage fell to just nine points with eight minutes to play.
Both teams’ bench players had a large impact on the game’s result. The Spiders (10-14, 5-7) got the job done, while the Owls’ reserves struggled.
In a five-minute span, Richmond guard Mirna Mazic converted 8-of-12 free throws to bring the Spiders’ deficit to 52-46 with five minutes left. Mazic contributed 18 points and nine rebounds in her 23 minutes off the bench.
Four Temple reserves combined for no points, one board and one assist in 23 minutes.
With three minutes to play, the Owls were clinging to a two-point lead. Senior forward Candice Dupree’s layup pushed the Owls’ lead to four, but Sarah Williams – another Richmond reserve – hit a trey to knock down the Owls’ lead to one point.
The score remained the same until a Temple turnover, ensued by a personal foul, put Richmond guard Saona Chapman on the free throw line. Chapman converted only one of two freebies, tying the game at 54 with only 36 seconds remaining.
On the Owls’ next possession, Hairston’s jump shot hit the rim and allowed Richmond one last shot before overtime.
In pursuit of the rebound, Maddox was called for a personal foul that put Richmond’s Araceli Gil at the line with a chance to win the game. Gil converted both free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining to seal the Owls’ loss.
Hairston and Khadija Bowens each netted 12 points. They combined for 13 rebounds. Dupree and Maddox each had 11 points, and Dupree had eight rebounds and three assists.
The Owls’ loss to Richmond marked the second time this season that they had a four-game win streak ended in a game’s final seconds. On Jan. 27 at Saint Joseph’s Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse, the Owls fell, 65-64, when the Hawks’ Hillary Klimowicz hit a shot with two seconds left.
Kevin Maloney can be reached at email@example.com.