Since her arrival at Temple, Candice Dupree has been a mainstay in the Owls’ starting lineup. With the exception of a foot injury sustained late in her freshman season, Dupree has played in all but 11 games during her collegiate career.
The No. 17 women’s basketball team had a temporary scare Sunday when Dupree went down midway through the first half of the Owls’ 70-56 win over Rhode Island.
Dupree leaped for a loose ball that was recovered by teammate Ari Moore with 11:28 remaining in the half. Moore’s layup went in as Dupree hit the floor, clutching her ankle. After remaining stationary for 90 seconds, Dupree limped off the court with the Owls ahead by 20 points. Fortunately for the Owls, her absence was momentary; she returned to the game four minutes later.
“She just needed to get it re-taped,” coach Dawn Staley said.
Dupree suffered a season-ending foot injury as a freshman. With just four games remaining this season, the Owls can hardly afford a similar injury to their leading scorer and rebounder. She is also first in the Atlantic Ten Conference in blocks.
“It’s alarming when you see one of your players go down,” Staley said. “I just didn’t want it to be that same type of injury. She said she just turned it.”
The Owls (20-3, 12-0) staked a 46-21 advantage at halftime. Their lead grew to as many as 32 points in the second half. With such a large cushion, the Owls played down to the level of the Rams (5-18, 3-9), who are tied for last place in the A-10 East Division. The Owls have now won 17 straight games.
The Owls have not played from behind since Jan. 30 against Xavier. Though they never lost the lead to the Rams, they were outscored by 11 in the second half. Staley said she addressed the players about their play in the second half.
“I’m not going to jump on our team every time something goes wrong. But I’m quite sure they knew exactly what was going on in the beginning of the second half,” she said. “They’re mature. They knew what they were doing.”
Senior guard Cynthia Jordan led all scorers with 16 points. She was one of five Owls in double figures.
STARTING TO SHOOT
Junior guard Jennifer Owens had started just one game prior to this season. Despite her lack of experience, Owens has stepped up her play over the past week. Owens, who has a 4.6 points-per-game average this season, is averaging 7.0 points in the last three games. She is hitting 44 percent of her field goal attempts.
So what has Staley done to encourage Owens further?
“I gave her a hug yesterday,” Staley said. “She’s looking to be more offensive-minded and it shows. She looks at stats. She looks at missed shots and then she doesn’t want to shoot. But we haven’t told her to stop shooting.”
Staley played every Owl on the active roster for the eighth time this season. Additionally, each of the team’s five starters has started every game.
Because of the Owls’ depth, Staley said she would feel comfortable inserting a reserve into the starting lineup if the opportunity arose.
“We are eight deep,” Staley said. “I’m very confident about our bench. We are deep with Ashley [Morris] and Khadija [Bowens], and whatever other player comes off the bench. We have a few that I could plug in there. They all help.”
Staley said seeing Ervin Monier on a bench other than her own was “different.” After four seasons as one of Staley’s assistant coaches, Monier left the Owls for unknown reasons to join URI coach Tom Garrick’s bench in the offseason.
He now serves as an associate coach for the Rams. Sunday’s game was Monier’s first in the Liacouras Center as a member of a visiting team.
“It was different,” Staley said. “Our players were shaken up the last time we played them [on Jan. 7]. They were okay this time around.
“I’m glad he’s in a good spot for himself. He’ll help to get Rhode Island going .”
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.