PHILADELPHIA – In an overtime period that did not match
the intensity of the rest of the game, Saint Joseph's (18-6, 9-1)
outscored Temple women's basketball 10-2 en route to handing the Owls a
49-41 loss on Sunday afternoon. The game was neck-and-neck for nearly
the entire second half, but after scoring the first bucket in overtime,
Temple (12-13, 5-5) was unable to generate any more offense.
The defeat broke a long streak for the Owls, who had won the last 13 straight against the Hawks. The loss also ends Temple's Big 5 season with a record of 1-3, while Saint Joseph's improves to 2-1.
Natasha Thames recorded her second double-double of the season to lead the Owls, adding a game-high 14 rebounds to a game-high 15 points. Victoria Macaulay pulled down 13 boards and blocked five shots, moving her into fourth place all-time in the Temple record books with 192 career blocks. Also finishing in double figures in scoring for the Owls was Rateska Brown with 10.
"We knew coming into the game that it was going to be a nail-biter because it's always been that way," said head coach Tonya Cardoza. "It's always one of the toughest games on our schedule no matter what the records are. I'm proud of how our guys fought today. The defense that we played to hold them to 49 points in overtime- I definitely thought we had the mindset to come out here and try to steal one."
It took the Owls awhile to get going in the first half, but it was a similar story for the Hawks who only manages to get a 4-0 lead despite Temple not scoring for over five minutes. Temple finally got a pair of three-pointers from Tyonna Williams and Brown to tie the score at 6-6, and soon took the lead with a 9-0 run.
Thames scored six points in the run including a pair of putbacks to give the Owls a six-point, 12-6 lead with 7:25 left in the first half. Temple matched that lead on three more occasions, the last on a layup from Sally Kabengano at 2:42 to make the score 18-12.
Ashley Prim capped a 6-0 Saint Joseph's run with a trey at the two-minute mark, tying the score for a second time at 18-18. The only point in the final two minutes as a free throw from Kabengano, sending Temple into halftime up by one point, 19-18.
Temple had committed more turnovers early in the second half, but ended up forcing 11 by the Hawks in the half while recording nine. The Owls took better advantage, finishing the half with a 9-3 edge in points off turnovers. Thames led Temple with six points at the break, and led all players with seven rebounds.
Thames reached double figures in the first two minutes of the second half, scoring back-to-back layups to put the Owls up 23-18. The Hawks responded with a 6-0 run to take their first lead since 12:45 of the first half, going up 24-23 at 16:12.
The Hawks' 24-23 lead would be the first of five lead changes over the next three minutes of action. Saint Joseph's scored at 13:49 to regain the lead for a third time, and would hold the lead for the next six minutes.
Starting with Brown's second three-pointer of the game at 8:46, Temple used a 7-0 run to regain the lead a point, 36-35 by with seven and a half minutes remaining. From there, neither team scored for close to four minutes until Macaulay hit 1-of-2 at the line near the four-minute mark.
Saint Joseph's tied the game at 2:45 with a pair of free throws, and Temple got a one-point lead back on a free throw from Thames. Ashley Robinson gave the Hawks the lead back at 2:07, 39-38, and the only point the rest of the way was the tying free throw by Williams with 17.8 seconds left. She missed the second and the Hawks missed their only clean shot attempt in the remaining time.
Macaulay gave Temple a lead in the first minute of overtime, but the Owls would not score again. They missed their next six attempts including two three-pointers, while the Hawks went 4-for-8 from the field and 2-of-3 at the free throw line.
"Once we got into overtime I felt like we started to panic when they took the lead," said Cardoza. "We took some rushed shots and some unnecessary shots and we allowed it to get away from us. I am happy with how we played for most of the game. (Saint Joseph's) is a team that can score a lot of points and they're at the top of the conference with an experienced team. For us to go out and hold them to 29 percent from the floor, that's a big deal. But on the other end, we have to find other ways to score."
Temple's next game is a home contest against Xavier, set for 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at McGonigle Hall. The Owls will be honoring the Play 4Kay Foundation in the fight against breast cancer, and all fans are encouraged to wear pink to show their support.