The women’s basketball team said goodbye to one of the most talented senior classes in school history as the Owls’ dropped their Women’s National Invitational tournament Sweet 16 match against Syracuse.
Despite getting 20 points from senior guard Shey Peddy and a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds from senior guard Kristen McCarthy Temple couldn’t pull out a win, falling 82-68 at home.
“We expected to go all the way and win this thing,” coach Tonya Cardoza said in an emotional postgame press conference. “They were just too much for us to handle, especially inside.”
The Orange were led by All-Big East Second Team junior center Kayla Alexander’s 29 points and 10 rebounds. Alexander dominated the front court in the second half, scoring 18 of her points and grabbing seven rebounds.
“[Alexander’s] a handful when she gets the ball in the paint,” Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said.
“Their big girl was just a lot for us tonight and we tried and we did what we could and [Alexander] was just tough to handle,” McCarthy said.
Syracuse also got a huge boost from junior forward Carmen Tyson-Thomas, who scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, as three players had double-doubles in the game.
The Owls led for much of the first half after taking a quick 10-5 lead, but the Orange slowly chipped away. Senior forward Iasia Hemingway nailed a three with 3.6 seconds left to put them up 33-29. But Peddy answered with a prayer three from just inside half court that hit off the backboard to bring Temple back within one going into the locker room.
“That was a good shot as far as momentum-wise because we hadn’t really gotten anything going,” McCarthy said.
But Temple was unable to capitalize on their newfound momentum. Behind Tyson-Thomas’s 10 points to open the half Syracuse jumped out on a 23-14 run to lead 56-46 with 10 minutes remaining.
Temple was never able to recover and the closest they got the rest of the game was down six. The Owls forced shots late to try and make a run but couldn’t find success.
“I’m just very happy,” Hillsman said. “I just thought that we came out and played hard, and we competed and we had a chance to win the basketball game.”
For Temple’s seniors—Peddy, McCarthy, guard BJ Williams and center Joelle Connelly (who didn’t suit up for academic reasons)—it was the final time they walked off the court in McGonigle Hall.
“It’s a disappointing feeling, just knowing that as the time winds out there’s nothing else you can do and this will be the last time we wear a Temple jersey,” Peddy said.
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org