CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Qwedia Wallace hit a jumper with five seconds left to give the Temple women’s basketball team a one-point lead, and then iced the victory with two free throws on the Owls’ next possession to give Temple a 60-57 win in the Atlantic 10 opener at Charlotte (12-4, 0-1). The fast-paced and thrilling game took place in front of a deafening crowd of 3,536 school-age children at Halton Arena.
Kristen McCarthy led all players with 22 points as Temple (9-6, 1-0) defeated a Charlotte team that finished the non-conference season with a record of 12-3.
McCarthy added a team-high nine rebounds and three steals to her performance. She would appear to have Charlotte’s number after scoring a program-record 42 points in a win vs. the 49ers last season.
Wallace finished with 10 points and a team-high four assists. Shannon McCallum was the leader for Charlotte with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while the 49ers’ Jennifer Hailey led all players with 12 boards.
Both teams kept a furious pace throughout the first half but struggled to find the bottom of the net, failing to convert on a number of layups under the basket.
The Owls shot 33 percent from the field, slightly better than Charlotte’s 27.6 percent, and led by as many as nine points in the half.
With Temple ahead 19-10 on a layup from McCarthy with 6:28 remaining, the 49ers used a 10-4 run to end the half down by just three, 23-20.
McCarthy led all players with seven at the break, and also had six rebounds to lead Temple. The Owls forced 10 Charlotte turnovers in the first half, leading to 10 points off turnovers.
Temple started the second half on a 6-0 run to tie its largest lead of nine, but the 49ers answered with a 6-0 run of their own to put the margin back at three.
Charlotte came within two points on two occasions in the first 10 minutes of the half. Six different players scored for Temple as it held off the 49ers, but Charlotte pulled within one and then took its first lead, 45-43 at 7:37 on three from Kendria Holmes with her first basket of the game.
The 49ers went on to lead by six, 50-44, capping a 9-1 run on a trey from Jai Forney with 5:40 remaining.
While Charlotte looked to have all the momentum, the Owls got themselves back in it with 4-of-4 shots at the line (McCarthy and Shey Peddy) and then a three-pointer from Peddy to cap their own 7-0 run and retake the lead at 51-50.
After a tie score at 53-53, Holmes hit her second three for Charlotte, but a couple minutes later McCarthy once again went 2-of-2 at the line to put TU within a point, 57-56.
After some misses by the 49ers, Marli Bennett corralled the rebound and Wallace went through traffic and made a layup with five seconds on the clock for a 58-57 Temple lead. She then got a steal on Charlotte’s possession, was fouled and sank both attempts at the line to seal the win.
“When Charlotte went up six I think our guys felt like it was slipping away,” said Temple head coach Tonya Cardoza, “and to their credit they took it upon themselves to get us back in it. We looked at this game as the start of a brand new season, and being on the road in a hostile environment, this was a good win against a good team.”
Temple will be back in action next week at home as part of a doubleheader with the men’s team on Wednesday, Jan. 12. The Owls will face Atlantic 10 foe Rhode Island at 5:00 p.m. in the Liacouras Center.