PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/23/2020 – Simply stated; the winner of the game between the University of Pennsylvania Quakers and the Temple Owls would share the Big Five Championship with the Villanova Wildcats. The co-titlist is the Temple Owls who posted a come from behind win to defeat Penn 76 – 72 at McGonigle Hall. For the Owls it was a chance to celebrate a championship.
“When the game was over I was watching them (the team) because they haven’t experienced this kind of success,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “Outside of the senior class who were cheerleaders for that NCAA season, these guys haven’t experienced a Big Five Championship. To see how happy they were, but more importantly to dig and claw and stay together. When things weren’t going well they could have thrown in the towel, but they didn’t. They continued to fight, and good things happened for them.”
Temple guard and Philadelphian Ashley Jones ignited a fourth quarter rally. Down by 11 with eight and a half minutes remaining, Jones scored 10 of the next 12 points for the Cherry and White to close the gap to 63 – 61 with just over five and half to play.
From there the front court took over. The Owls took the lead back on a three-point play by Alexa Williamson at the 5:24 mark. Lena Niang posted the next 7 Temple points. Her three-pointer gave the Cherry and White a 69 – 65 lead.
Michae Jones got a basket that gave the lead back to Penn with over two-minutes to play. Free throws by Niang and a critical ‘and-one’ by Mia Davis late gave Temple the final margin of victory.
The horn sounded and McGonigle Hall and the team celebrated.
“I was really happy and excited not only for me, for my teammates too,” said Jones. “Especially the seniors that are here. Before the game I felt like I wanted to get it for them as well. It was really exciting.”
It was the 11th Big Five title for Temple, four under Cardoza, their first since the 2016-17 season which they won outright.
The Owls outscored the Quakers 29 – 12 in the decisive fourth quarter. The defense also rose to the occasion holding Penn to 5 of 16 shooting and allowed no three pointers in the final ten minutes.
Until the fourth quarter Penn dominated the game and lead 60 – 47 after three.
Davis registered her 13th double-double of the season and 30th in her career with 20 points and a game-best 14 rebounds. Jones scored 17 points, 13 in the second half, and handed out 6 assists. Temple guard Marissa Mackins had 14 first half points. Williamson earned a double-double, first of the season, with 12 points and a career-high tying 12 rebounds.
Penn was led by Eleah Parker with 17 points and 13 rebounds, the most off the boards for Parker this season. Kendall Grasela scored a career-high 15 points and a game-best 7 assists. Tori Crawford scored 11 points. Kayla Padilla was limited to 8 points.
It is back to conference play for both teams. For the Owls (12 – 7) it is a chance to build upon the momentum as they go to Cincinnati on Sunday.
Penn (10 – 4) starts Ivy League play at the end of January and needs to put this behind them. It will be a test for the Quakers.
“That’s what we will do and do well, but this is one is going to sting for awhile,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “For them to grow as a group, this should sting a little bit.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian