The Owls hit the road last weekend for the first of a three-game road trip. Despite four double figure scorers, Temple (11-8, 7-1) suffered it’s first conference loss at Rhode Island. Kamesha Hairston, Britney Jordan, Candice Dupree and Cynthia Jordan each contributed 10 points in the loss.
In searching for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Owls must first face some adversities and injuries. Cynthia Jordan has had her knee taped for the past two practices and just yesterday, Britney Jordan missed practice time with a head injury.
Entering the season, Staley spoke highly of unknown point guard Britney Jordan. Jordan, the highest recruit in the history of the women’s basketball program, had gone a bit unnoticed in the first half of the season. That is, of course, until Jordan claimed Atlantic Ten Conference Rookie of the Week honors in each of the past two weeks.
During that span, Jordan has posted career numbers, averaging 17.3 ppg in four contests, essentially carrying the offensive load. Over the same period, sophomore center Candice Dupree, the team’s leading scorer, has averaged only 11.3 ppg.
“I try to get extra shots up,” Jordan said. “I’m just playing hard and having fun right now.”
In addition to her offensive spurts, Jordan has stepped up her defensive game as well. While setting a career high in steals against Rhode Island and Rutgers (four steals in both games), Jordan is averaging 2.2 spg in conference play, leading the Owls to a 7-1 record against A-10 opponents.
With eight games to play, the Owls are trying to keep their postseason dreams alive. Their next two contests are on the road against conference foes Xavier and Dayton.
The Owls have not fared well against neither Xavier (14-7, 2-6) nor Dayton (3-17, 2-8) in the all-time series.
But Staley believes the team’s success extends further than its home court at the Liacouras Center.
Here’s the run-down on both of the Owls next two opponents:
Dayton: The Flyers have not played to their potential. Because of an injury-plagued roster, the Flyers are left with only seven active players. The player the Owls must stop in Friday night’s game is Stefanie Miller, Dayton’s leading scorer in nine of 20 contests. Miller is a workhorse, playing the entire 40 minutes in eight of her last nine games. She is averaging 13.7 points, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game, carrying the load for a very weak team.
Xavier: The Musketeers bring a five-game winning streak into their Feb. 8 match-up with Temple. Led by sophomore forward Tara Booth, the Musketeers are currently in second place in the A-10 West division. Booth is the conference’s fourth leading scorer, averaging 19 points per game.
The most staggering statistic aside from Temple’s 7-1 conference record has been the Owls’ resiliency when it matters most – in the extra session.
Staley’s squad is 4-0 in overtime games this season, including a road win against conference rival Saint Joseph’s. The Owls are 4-3 in games decided by five points or less, and have earned all four of those wins in the additional five-minute session.
“We’re not a team that can play with a lead,” Staley said. “We can’t hold a lead because we’re a team that gets too complacent, too lax. Maybe that’s because we have some experienced players, and we have some inexperienced players. With that mixture, you never know what team is going to take the floor. We’re fortunate that we keep winning.”
Christopher A. Vitocan be reached at email@example.com.