The women’s basketball team took care of business Saturday, but it wasn’t pretty.
The Owls started their game against Drexel by throwing the ball inside. That didn’t work. Then they tried to establish a mid-range game. There wasn’t much consistency there, either.
Then they went to their big guns, and everything suddenly fell into place.
Senior center Candice Dupree and junior forward Kamesha Hairston led the scoring barrage in the first half, as the No. 21-ranked Owls cruised to a 66-54 win over the Dragons at the Liacouras Center. The pair connected on 56 percent of their shots to keep the Owls’ record perfect (3-0).
Dupree tallied her second double-double in three games, leading the Owls with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Hairston added eight points and six boards. Dupree and Hairston scored 12 of the Owls’ first 15 points.
Hairston got it going when a drive through the paint put her at the foul line. Dupree scored underneath the rim. After the Owls’ built a substantial lead, the two decided to test their range. Hairston started taking jump shots from the corner. Dupree did the same.
In fact, Dupree has been working on a three-point shot, which she has yet to use in a game. Dupree said the rebounding ability of sophomore forward Lady Comfort gives Dupree a lot of breathing room to shoot from the perimeter.
“I like that I have the opportunity now to stay outside more,” said Dupree, this week’s Atlantic Ten Conference Player of the Week. “I can get outside shots set up, [so it] kind of prevents me from getting double- and triple-teamed.”
Hairston said she hasn’t bought into the concept that she is evolving into a scoring threat supplementary to Dupree.
“It makes it a lot easier [to score], knowing that I have another partner on the floor just as athletic as I am,” she said. “[She] can basically do the same thing that I’m doing on the defensive end. It just makes it all easier.”
Coach Dawn Staley said the win was an important one for the Owls, as they hadn’t played a game in seven days. When the Owls extended their lead to a game-high 23 points late in the second half, Staley said clearing the bench suddenly became an option.
“It’s not like we’re going to say we had this game in the bag, but we’re going to need some of these players in some important games,” Staley said. “We want [the players] to know that each game is an opportunity to get some valuable minutes.”
The Dragons (0-2) trailed, 41-25, at halftime. They outrebounded the Owls, but took 12 more shots than Temple.
THE NEXT CLASS
Four high school seniors last week signed national letters of intent to play for the Owls in 2006-07. Among them is 6-foot-2 forward Jasmine Stone, of Detroit, who last season was named one of the top juniors by USA Today. Guard Lakeisha Eaddy from Columbia, Md., and forwards Alesha Harris and Raven James, both of Phoenix City, Ala., complete the Owls’ newest class.
Senior guard Jennifer Owens sat out Saturday’s game with a mild concussion, suffered Nov. 12 against Oregon. Staley said Owens “still has a little twinkle in her eye.” Sophomore Ashley Morris started in Owens’ place. … Sophomore guard Candice Borrows tied two career highs against the Dragons, with nine points on three successful attempts from beyond the arc. … Saturday’s game was the first chance Owls’ fans had to see new women’s basketball banners, which hang from the rafters in the northeast corner of the Liacouras Center. The banners recognize the Owls’ three A-10 championships.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.