Temple women stay on roll with victory over La Salle

Posted: February 27, 2004

Members of the NCAA women's basketball tournament committee have said in recent years that one of the best cases that a school can make for an at-large bid to the 64-team field is to be hot down the stretch.

Temple has been doing just that, and continued last night with a 71-59 victory over La Salle in an Atlantic Ten Conference game at the Liacouras Center.

The Owls (18-8 overall, 14-1 A-10), who have already clinched the conference's East Division title, extended their winning streak to seven. They have won 14 of their last 16 games.

One game remains in the regular season and it's a big one: On Sunday, Temple travels to George Washington, the West Division winner.

Of course, the Owls could avoid all the speculation about the NCAA tourney by winning the conference tournament, which begins at St. Joseph's a week from today. The tourney champion receives an automatic NCAA bid.

But if that quest falls short, it's nice to have an alternative way into the Big Dance, especially knowing that Temple could be on its home court for the first two rounds. That's because the Liacouras Center will be the site of a subregional tournament.

La Salle (14-12, 7-9) tried to end Temple's streak by taking a 27-26 lead at halftime and keeping the outcome in doubt until more than five minutes into the second half.

"We're at the point in the season where we can't spot people 20 minutes," Temple coach Dawn Staley said. "But we regrouped and I'm sure we won't let that happen again."

The Owls began pounding the offensive boards and took a 36-35 lead with 14 minutes, 24 seconds to play. They never trailed again.

"Their best offensive weapon was the missed shot," La Salle coach John Miller said. Temple had a 20-3 advantage on offensive rebounds and outrebounded La Salle overall, 39-25.

The game was also the last of the City Series this season, with Temple ending 2-2 and La Salle 1-3. Villanova swept its rivals in the series, 4-0.

Freshman Kamesha Hairston led the Owls with a career-high 15 points off the bench, and freshman Britney Jordan came off the bench to score 13. Candice Dupree and Christena Hamilton each scored 10 points for Temple.

La Salle freshman Crista Ricketts scored 20 points, and Kat Foley added 12.

Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725

or mgreenberg@phillynews.com.

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