By Mel Greenberg
As daylight breaks on Sunday morning the Temple women’s basketball team can look at the Big Five standings and find itself locked at the top with St. Joseph’s at 2-0.
Then the Owls (13-6, 4-0) can glance at the race in the Atlantic 10 and learn they are now one of only two teams in conference play still unbeaten, trailing No. 7 Xavier, 16-2, 5-0) by a half-game after the defending league champion Musketeers handled host Charlotte 82-61 Saturday night as Amber Harris had 27 points and 12 rebounds while teammate Ta’Shia Phillips had 22 points and 13 rebounds.
But Temple’s lackluster play Saturday in a Big Five game against host Penn (6-9, 1-3) had coach Tonya Cardoza concerned despite Temple’s ability to slip past the Quakers 62-55 in the closing minutes at The Palestra.
“They outworked us in every way,” she said of Penn’s attempt to get another City Series triumph after Wednesday’s win against La Salle had ended an 0-24 slump extending back to Dec. 1, 2004 when the Quakers had beaten St. Joseph’s. “They were hungry for a win.
“We came out lackluster. I thought they did a good job of taking it right to us and fighting us down to the very end. You could tell how hungry they were with how they played. And I think our guys just stood around and just watched for the most part and did not take it right back to them.
“And the thing of it with us is we don’t every want a team to outwork us and I think they definitely outworked us today. The only reason why we won is we have a little bit more talent.”
Shey Peddy scored 20 points for Temple while Qwedia Wallace had 14 points and Natasha Thames had 10. But Kristen McCarthy, the reigning Big Five player of the year, was held to four points, way below her 13.4 scoring average.
Penn freshman Alyssa Baron tied a career high with 23 points, though she was the only Quaker to score in double figures and Temple dominated the boards with a 45-31 rebounding advantage.
But those stats were not truly reflective of the game, according to Cardoza, who was unhappy with her players shooting 2-for-8 down the stretch from the foul line until Wallace hit a pair with 25 seconds left in the game.
Penn trailed just 53-48 near the three minute mark until a pair of back-to-back three pointers by Wallace and Peddy enabled Temple to have enough points to withstand a Quakers rally at the end.
“Even with our rebounds, we don’t finish off offensive rebounds and we don’t get putbacks so those don’t make much of a difference,” Cardoza said. “I just think we probably got more shots at the basket. But we don’t score on those putbacks, if we score on those putbacks we’re up 20 points.
“It’s been the same thing every game. We had three games where we were playing great defense and when we come in here, you’d think we wanna step on the gas and defend them and we didn’t defend them at all.
“They got just about anything and everything they wanted. They’re a really good team. They play hard but they really outworked us.”
Penn has really accelerated its effort in the last several weeks, scaring Atlantic Coast Conference power Virginia in Charlottesville last Sunday, beating La Salle and then keeping the Owls within striking distance.
Before that they threatened Villanova down the stretch and had started the New Year at defending Ivy champion Princeton by gaining a 20-20 tie in the first half before the Tigers broke loose.
But now Penn actually feels it might have some momentum going into the Friday-Saturday Ivy wars that get under way this weekend beginning with road stops at Yale and Brown.
“Without a doubt,” second year coach Mike McLaughlin said. “I’ve seen a lot of progress and growth in this team. To be able to come out here against this type of team and put us in another opportunity with a chance to win – that’s all us coaches can hope for.
“Our kids compete, they defend and they play every play and whoever we play is going to have their work cut out for. It’s not always the cleanest basketball, but I don’t think you’re going to have a better effort than from our group.”
Asked the difference in the outcome, he said, “We struggle to score. They got a couple of putbacks late, they got a couple of open shots late.
“I see a group that went from one level to another level,” said McLaughlin, who had made Holy Family the dominate Division II power out of Northeast Philadelphia in the city before coming to Penn last year to revive the Quakers’ performance.
“They believe they can do this. They’re committed to do this. They have a littlte confidence now and they realize they can compete. And when you have a group that doesn’t give up a lot of good can happen.” St. Joseph’s Ends Losing Streak
Despite having a less formidable opponent in the Atlantic 10 than in recent weeks in hosting Massachusetts, the Hawks trailed by as many as 13 points before rallying to eventually stop the Minutewomen 72-68 at Hagan Arena.
Michelle Baker snapped a scoring slump and had a team high 21 points while Kelly Kavallo had another double double performance with 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks (12-7, 2-3 A-10). Erin Shields had 12 points and dealt seven assists.
Massachusetts, which will host Temple Wednesday when St. Joseph’s hosts St. Bonaventure, fell to 6-14 overall and 2-3 in the league. Duquesne Handles La Salle
The Dukes shook off a home loss to Richmond on Wednesday to win their 10th straight road game, beating the Explorers 81-65 as Wumi Agunbiade had 14 points and 10 rebounds at Tom Gola Arena.
The visitors, who are coached by former Penn State all-American Suzie McConnell-Serio, an Olympic gold medalist and former WNBA All-Star, improved to 16-3 and 3-1 in the Atlantic 10.
Ashley Gale scored 22 points for La Salle (5-14, 1-3).
Incidentally, former coach Tom Lochner is now assisting former Penn star Diana Caramanico at Penn Charter high and he is also employed elsewhere at La Salle.
In other Atlantic 10 games, host St. Bonaventure (13-7, 3-2) got a 66-52 win over Rhode Island (6-13, 0-5) in upstate New York, while downstate in the city, host Fordham ((10-10, 2-2 A-10) got its first win ever against George Washington, 59-56, after having gone 0-16 against the Colonials (5-13, 0-4) in the all-time series between the two schools.
Becky Peters scored 27 points for the Rams, who several seasons ago had gone 0-29. Tiana Meyers scored 15 points for GWU.
Dayton (12-7, 3-2) topped host Richmond (13-6, 4-1) from the conference unbeaten list as the Flyers gained a 66-55 win over the Spiders as Kristin Dougherty scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Dayton will host La Salle Wednesday. Nova Remains Winless in Big East
Another game against another ranked team in the Big East produced another loss for Villanova, which fell at No. 16 Georgetown 60-44 in McDonough Arena in the nation’s capital.
Laura Sweeney scored 16 points for the Wildcats (8-11, 0-6), who have now lost five of six, keeping coach Harry Perretta stuck on career win number 594.
The host Hoyas (15-5, 3-3) got 18 points from Tia Magee and 17 from Sugar Rodgers.
Villanova is off until Saturday when the Wildcats will host another ranked Big East team in No. 11 Notre Dame at 7 p.m. at The Pavilion.
Muffet McGraw, a former St. Joseph’s star who is a longtime coach of the Irish, will be making her first homecoming appearance since being named last summer as part of the this June’s inductee class into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. Rutgers Warms Up For UConn Visit
The Scarlet Knights (12-6, 5-0 Big East) got ready to try to take advantage of No. 2 UConn’s reduced post presence by using an inside attack to beat Providence 60-39 in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J., and drop the Friars to 9-9 and 2-4 in the conference.
Rutgers will host Connecticut Wednesday in the only game against the Huskies in the regular season.
Chelsea Lee scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Monique Oliver scored 15 points. April Sykes in the backcourt had 12 points.
Connecticut (18-1, 7-0), playing its first game since freshman Samarie Walker announced her intention Thursday to transfer from the Huskies (she’s headed for Kentucky), topped Pittsburgh 66-46 at Gampel Pavilion, it’s campus arena in Storrs.
Senior all-American Maya Moore scored 20 points in the first half and 28 overall against the Panthers (9-9, 1-4) while freshman Bria Hartley scored 13 points.
Pittsburgh got 16 points from Taneisha Harrison while Big East double double leader Chelsea Cole had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“The score did not reflect what a great game this was,” Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said.
Elsewhere in the Big East among ranked teams, No. 9 West Virginia (19-1, 5-1) got 16 points each from Sarah Miles and Liz Rapella in a 78-52 win over South Florida (9-11, 0-6) at home in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers this week will visit Georgetown on Tuesday and DePaul on Sunday before hosting Connecticut the following week.
DePaul (19-2, 6-0), ranked 13th, topped Seton Hall 77-59 in Chicago as the Pirates fell to 7-12 overall and remained winless at 0-6 in the conference.
Keisha Hampton and Taylor Pikes each scored 16 points for the Blue Demons.
Syracuse rallied to a 69-63 at Marquette in a key win over the Orangewomen who fell out of the rankings several weeks ago.
Louisville topped host Cincinnati 83-47. Stanford Slams Southern Cal
The No. 4 Cardinal (16-2, 7-0 Pac-10), which stopped UConn’s NCAA Division I record win streak at 90 last month, is feeling its muscle rolling along in conference play.
Jeanette Pohlen scored 21 points and dealt a career-high 12 assists in a 95-51 win over visiting Southern Cal (12-6, 4-3), the Cardinal’s 10th straight since road losses at DePaul and at Tennessee in overtime.
Briana Gilbreath scored 17 points to become the 22nd USC women’s star to reach 1,000 in her career, joining an illustratious group that includes Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller.
Stanford’s freshman Chiney Ogwumike and her older sister Nnemkadi each scored 14 points for Stanford, which also got 16 points from Kayla Pederson in the Cardinal’s 56h straight home win at Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, Calif.
Meanwhile, No. 8 UCLA (16-2, 6-1), the conference’s other ranked team, got a career-high 22 points from Darxia Morris in a 65-56 win at California (11-7, 3-4) in Berkeley.
The Bears got 22 points from DaNesha Stallworth.
Elsewhere in the conference, Dymond Simon scored 13 points to help Arizona State (12-5, 4-3) to a 52-49 win over visiting
Washington (7-10, 2-6) in Tempe, while host Arizona (13-5, 4-3) got 18 points, 12 rebounds and eight steals from Ify Ibekwe in a 64-58 win over Washington State (5-15, 3-5). Longhorns Finally Hook Big 12 Win
Chassidy Fussell, a freshman, scored 21 points to get Texas (12-7, 1-4) its first Big 12 win of the season, a 63-56 triumph over visiting Oklahoma State (13-5, 1-4) at home in Austin.
Top-ranked Baylor (18-1, 5-0), whose only loss was the one-point defeat at Connecticut in November, continues to ride Brittney Griner, who had 25 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots in a 64-51 Big 12 win over visiting Texas Tech (16-3, 3-2) at home in Waco, Texas.
The game was the first meeting between the two schools since Griner, then a heralded freshman, got suspended for two games last season after she threw a punch that broke the nose of the Red Raiders’ Jordan Barncastle.
Sixth-ranked Texas A&M (17-1, 5-0) stopped No. 20 Iowa State’s 19-game home win streak in Ames, gaining a 60-51 win courtesy of Danielle Adams’ 25 points against the Cyclones (13-5, 1-3).
In other Big 12 games, Brittany Chambers tied a career-high with 26 points as host Kansas State (13-5, 3-2) got a 64-37 win over Nebraska (11-7, 1-3). The Other Green Bay News
Attention is focused on the Packers’ bid to stop the Chicago Bears in the Windy City Sunday in the NFL and go to the Super Bowl, but in a battle of cheesetowns Saturday in the Horizon League, No. 21 Wis.-Green Bay (18-1, 7-0) got 20 points and 10 rebounds from Kayla Tetschlag in an 87-39 win over state rival and visiting Wis.-Milwaukee (6-12, 3-4). Staying Perfect In Other Conferences
Starr Crawford had 15 points as TCU (14-6, 6-0) topped host Utah 56-46 to stay unbeaten in the Mountain West Conference while Navy took over sole possession of first place in the Patriot League by beating Army 55-46.
Gonzaga beat San Francisco to be unchallenged in the West Coast Conference while Louisiana Tech in the Western Athletic Conference beat Nevada 67-43 at home and celebreated a national championship reunion.
Incidentally, a recent AP story noted one of former NBA star Karl Malone’s daughters were transferring to Tech, his alma mater but didn’t mention former WNBA All-Star Cheryl Ford, who also went to the school in Ruston.
Montana State won at rival Montana 72-69 to remain unbeaten in the Big Skuy Conference. Missing in Sunday’s Action
Jessica Breland had minor knee surgery and won’t be with North Carolina when the No. 10 Tar Heels visit No. 15 Maryland in a key Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in College Park.
Elena Della Donne is still sidelined with back problems and won’t be with Delaware when the Blue Hens visit Georgia State Sunday.
See you again in the next 24. -- Mel