The women’s basketball team waited and waited in front of a small crowd in the Liacouras Center as they watched for their name to be called for the NCAA tournament.
But they never saw the Temple T.
“Obviously our players are disappointed, but that definitely doesn’t take away from the year that we had,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We think that we played really good basketball, especially down the stretch. We’re just disappointed that the committee didn’t see it that way.”
“Definitely wasn’t expecting this,” she added. “You don’t ever want to leave something up for someone to vote for you.”
The players were unavailable for comment after the selection show.
The Owls watched the four brackets—Fresno, Kingston, Raleigh and Des Moines—get filled one by one but never heard their name as members of the Cherry Crusade, Spirit Squad and the athletic department watched with them.
Fellow Atlantic Ten Conference rivals St. Bonaventure and Dayton were both placed into the Raleigh region. The conference regular season champion Bonnies, who are making their first appearance in the big dance, landed the fifth seed against Florida Gulf Coast, who is also making its first appearance.
The Flyers, having upset St. Bonaventure in the A-10 Championship game, are an 11-seed facing No. 6 Arkansas.
“We thought that we would probably be a 10-seed or an 11-seed,” Cardoza said. Good luck to Dayton, obviously, and St. Bonaventure. I hope they do well.”
After the final matchup between No. 2 Tennessee and No. 15 Tennessee-Martin in the Des Moines region was shown senior guard Kristen McCarthy stood up and thanked the crowd for coming and for supporting them. Fellow seniors, guards BJ Williams and Shey Peddy and center Joelle Connelly, were more noticeably silent like the rest of the team.
“For the guys that are coming back, they don’t ever want to sit here and be in this situation,” Cardoza said. “So hopefully that’ll be fire underneath them so they make sure that they get the job done when they need to.”
Junior center Victoria Macaulay sat silently with tears in her eyes. Macaulay took the last shot for the Owls in their semifinal loss to Dayton which came up short in a tough game that Temple trailed in for much of the time.
Macaulay posted a solid line—12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks—and was far from the reason why the Owls came up short against the Flyers. Cardoza hopes her feature player on next year’s roster will be motivated to get the team back into March Madness.
“[Macaulay] knows that she wasn’t solely responsible for it,” Cardoza said. “But hopefully she takes that and grows from it and uses it as motivation to become a better player.”
Connecticut, where Cardoza was an assistant for 14 years, is the first seed in the Kingston bracket while former Temple coach Dawn Staley will lead her South Carolina Gamecocks as the fifth seed in the Fresno region.
Temple now awaits word of who they will be playing in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament on Wednesday, as they are almost assured to land a spot in the tournament.
“We just want to continue to play basketball and play good basketball,” Cardoza said. “We’re just going to approach the NIT and try do our very best in that as well.”
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.