Temple Wins Their First Big Five Game of the Season 68 – 62 on Villanova’s Home Floor
VILLANOVA, PA 11/27/2021 –
The game featured a game between the teams that shared the Big Five championship in 2019, the previous season of a round robin city series. Temple won a tightly played, physical contest 68 – 62 at the Finneran Pavilion that saw lead changes, runs, and came down to the last minute and a half. Villanova is now 2 – 1 in the Big Five, Temple is 1 – 0. There is more Philly basketball to be played, but the Owls start on the right foot.
“We knew coming in here they already played two Big Five games, and if we don’t win this game there is no chance of us winning the Big Five,” said Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza. “This was really important. We had to come in here and focus and give ourselves a chance.”
The Cherry and White had to shoot better than their previous effort against Princeton. They did shooting 44% from the floor and 35% from three-point land. But more importantly the team saw all eight players on the floor score. Freshman guard Aniya Gourdine score a season-high 17 points converting 5 of 6 field goal attempts, 2 of 3 from beyond the arc, and sank 5 of 6 from the free throw line. With the game tied at 60 with 1:24 on the clock Gourdine made a pull-up jump shot for the lead. She would close out the game making 4 consecutive from the charity stripe. The coaching staff felt that Gourdine would make big shots and she did.
However, this was a full team effort with Alexa Williamson getting 16 points, and had a huge block on a Brianna Herlihy, and steal by Jalynn Holmes attempt that gave the ball back to Temple with with 27 seconds to play and the Owls holding that two-point lead.
“We all stuck together,” said Williamson. “There was never a time when we got down on ourselves. We were together as a team.”
“We had to make shots,” Cardoza said. “Lex (Williamson) on the inside and Aniya (Gourdine) from the perimeter. We made shots and that fueled us and gave that extra boost on defense.”
The teams were tied at the end of the first quarter. Villanova led by one at halftime, and the teams stayed even after three.
Temple came out after halftime and went on a 12 – 2 to take a 44 – 35 lead. Villanova answered back with a 13 – 4 spurt led by Lior Garzon, who scored a game-high 22 points, to level the game at 48. The Wildcats went ahead by 56 – 50 with just under 6 and a half minutes remaining. The Owls wiped that lead out, and set the stage for the end.
“Down the stretch when we had the lead that’s where we were lacking a little bit of leadership on the floor, recognizing it, and having that mentality of let’s take care of the basketball, continue to rebound the basketball on the other end and not give them second chance points. We did just the opposite,” said Villanova Coach Denise Dillon as the team played without Maddy Siegrist for the third consecutive game due to injury.
In the last minute and a half the Wildcats turned the ball over three times and made just 1 of 3 shots. And the team learned a lesson or two about playing in a physical game.
“Today was the most physical game for our team,” said guard Bella Runyan who scored 13 points and snared 7 rebounds. “Our young players saw that for the first time to actually put a body on someone to go get a rebound. You’re not going to get it if you don’t. Us learning that and going up against bigger teams moving forward, we’ll learn from that.”
Villanova hosts Lehigh on December 1, then starts Big East play. The Cats drop to 2 – 3 overall.
Mia Davis scored 10 points. Her basket at the 9:46 mark of the third quarter moved Davis into second place in Temple women’s basketball history for points scored passing Alliya Butts. Davis has 1,943 total points in her career.
Temple goes to Georgetown at the end of the month. The Owls are 3 – 3 on the season. Two games away is a Big Five encounter at Saint Joseph’s. When the Owls and the Hawks play, feathers fly. The Cherry and White have their eyes on the prize.
“We want to win the Big Five,” Cardoza said. “It’s important for us to get that. We want it outright and today was a good step in the right direction.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian