Once again, the women’s basketball team played well against one of the nation’s better programs, as coach Dawn Staley demands. The only problem was, the Owls didn’t seem to begin playing until the start of the second half.
Despite an impressive effort from junior center Candice Dupree, the Owls failed to muster a lead after the game’s first three minutes, dropping a 77-58 decision at Florida this past Saturday. Dupree scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
The first half was the most telling of the game. The Owls (3-3) held a 4-0 advantage a minute into the game, but the Gators went on runs of seven and five straight points shortly after. While the Gators raced out to 44-21 first-half lead, the Owls fumbled with the ball. Temple continued its season-long trend of turning over the ball, committing 13 turnovers in the first half alone.
The Gators (3-2) also exposed the Owls’ inability to defend the perimeter. Florida hit a team-record 11 three-pointers. Ten of those came courtesy of Florida guards Tishona Gregory and Tamia Williams.
Just six games into the 2004 campaign, the Owls have had an up-and-down season. They have yet to win consecutive games, trading each win with a loss.
Temple opens its Big 5 portion of the schedule against city rival Penn on Wednesday. The game is part of a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader against the Quakers at the Liacouras Center.
In last season’s matchup, the Quakers were outmatched in nearly every category. The game eventually turned into a shootout between Penn’s Jewel Clark and Dupree. Clark scored 30 points, while Dupree countered with 29. Both totals were career highs for the respective players.
The Quakers main offensive weapon this season is center Jennifer Fleischer. Fleischer, who had to pick up the slack left by the since-graduated Clark, is averaging nearly a double-double with 9.7 points and 9.7 rebounds. Last week against Saint Joseph’s, Fleischer scored a career-high 21 points.
The Quakers second threat is senior guard Karen Habrukowich. She has started all five games this year, averaging 9.5 points and 2.8 assists. But Habrukowich has yet to be defined as the second option, and Penn (3-3) has had to rely heavily on a total team effort. As a result, the Quakers have four other players who average five or more points per game.
Holding Fleischer in check may therefore be the key for the Owls defense. Two of the Quakers’ three losses have come when a player other than Fleischer has paced the team in scoring.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.