It was a case of déjà vu for the women’s basketball team as they were knocked out of the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament in the semi-final round by Dayton. The Flyers beat them in the 2011 tournament as well. A late flurry and comeback attempt by the Owls in the final five minutes fell short and the Flyers came away with the 66-63 victory on Sunday at Hagan Arena.
“We got rattled, we didn’t play smart basketball, and we didn’t stick to the game plan,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.
The first half started even as both teams came out shooting poorly in an up-and-down fast paced start. Senior guard Kristen McCarthy scored six points in the first six minutes to erase any lingering thoughts of her struggles the previous night. Her hot shooting helped the Owls out to a 14-9 lead as the Flyers started 4-17 shooting from the field.
After a timeout Dayton came out in a zone defense and things changed quickly. The Temple offense was thrown out of rhythm and Dayton took full advantage, going on a 17-2 run over a five-minute span. The Flyers pushed the lead as high as 10 before Peddy hit her first field goal of the game, an and-1 at the 2:15 mark of the half. She would hit a three in transition a moment later to cut the Dayton lead to seven heading into the half.
Both team’s statistics were nearly identical in every category at the half except Dayton had two more made three-pointers and 21 bench points compared to 7 for Temple. McCarthy led the Owls in scoring at the half with 8 while sophomore center Cassie Sant led the Flyers with a game-high 10.
In the second half, Temple came out and switched to a zone defense and began switching on ball screens, a key strategy discussed by both coaches later on. The Owls tied the game on junior forward Brittany Lewis’ three and junior center Victoria Macaulay’s lay up.
Lewis had a career day, bouncing back from a poor performance Saturday. Lewis had a double-double with 15 minutes remaining and finished the game with 19 points and 13 rebounds, 10 of which were offensive rebounds. The teams traded threes for a few minutes until the scored was tied at 49 with 9:00 to go.
Senior guard BJ Williams committed her fourth foul of the game and had to sit out. When she left, Dayton took advantage and went on a 8-0 run before Williams came back in and ended the run with a pair of free throws. The largest Dayton lead came with 5:24 left when they were up by 10. Lewis hit her third three of the game to cut it to seven, then Peddy hit a lay-up to cut it to five.
Macaulay made two free throws followed by a Williams free throw and the lead was down to two with under two minutes to go. Dayton converted a free throw of their own then Lewis scored off an offensive rebound to cut it to one.
The Owls made a crucial stop but Peddy turned it over on a traveling violation immediately after. Dayton missed the front end of a one-and-one setting up Temple with a chance to take the lead. But Macaulay missed a layup with five seconds left and Dayton secured the rebound. They converted both free throws and freshman guard Rateska Brown missed a desperation half-court shot at the buzzer.
“We fought to the end and even after playing horrible basketball we still gave ourselves a shot to win it at the end,” Cardoza said.
After scoring 30 the previous night, Peddy finished with 10 points, six assists, and five steals on 4-17 shooting.
“I picked the worst day to have the worst game of my life,” Peddy said.
The two teams were nearly identical in all shooting categories except Dayton had more points in the paint and more bench scoring as all nine of their players scored. Temple only had five players score but all five finished with double-figures. Forward Justine Raterman had a game-high 16 points for the Flyers and Lewis paced the Owls with a game-high 19.
“As a team we wanted to be the first to bring back an A-10 championship for coach,” Peddy said. “So to end like this, it hurts a lot.”
Brandon Stoneburg can be reached at email@example.com.