By Mel Greenberg
Temple was missing its offensive sparkplug Saturday when the Owls showed up at Kent State in Ohio for a nonleague game against the Golden Flashes.
Shaqwedia Wallace, the team's leading scorer who is one of the early leading local candidates for most improved player, was sidelined after having been poked in the eye during Temple's win over Ohio U. Thursday night.
With her vision not yet back at 100 percent, Wallace did not have medical clearance for the game.
Not to worry.
Sophomore B.J. Williams, making her first start, kept the Temple scoring machine humming with a career-high 23 points and the Owls held off the home team for a 68-63 victory that brought the Owls to 9-1, their best start since the opening of the 1981-82 season.
Although second-year coach Tonya Cardoza insists there's still fine tuning to be done -- the Owls let a 21-point lead in the second half nearly evaporate -- the path toward one of Temple's better seasons continues with a week off before hosting Villanova Sunday. Then there's a visit to Akron after Christmas before Duke visits on New Year's Eve.
Jasmine Stone continued to be a force in the post with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Kristen McCarthy added 15 points.
Temple was picked fifth in the Atlantic 10 preseason coaches' poll but after highly regarded and conference favorite Xavier took a loss this week as did Dayton, the Owls cannot be considered writeoffs in the second half when the A-10 wars are under way.
Double O Quakers
That would be Penn whose men's team is 0-7 while the women are 0-8 causing one to wonder if a school's combined Division I genders have ever gotten off to a similar woeful start.
Coach Glenn Miller's men's team fell at Monmouth with a second half rally going to waste in the final two minutes while new coach Mike McLaughlin's women lost in the Palestra to Rider, 66-53.
Whatever problems exist on the men's side are for another beat writer to explain.
Miller, however, was doomed to a tough challenge in his Division I debut with a rugged nonconference schedule and a squad whose major scoring punch in Carrie Biemer had graduated.
Division II Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia was never like this where the Tigers posted at least 25 wins each time out in McLaughlin's 14 seasons at his alma mater making him the fastest to get to 400 career wins in all NCAA Divisions before going after the Penn vacancy.
Kim Adams scored 19 points, the only Quaker in double figures, while Cintella Spotwood got 17 points and Amanda Sepulveda added 12 points for Rider (2-7).
The Broncos are coached by Lynn Milligan, a former St. Joseph's and Drexel assistant. Pam Durkin, who was an assistant at Drexel, and Rashana Barnes, a former West Catholic star who was one of Penn State's leaders on the 2000 Final Four team, are both on Milligan's staff. Barnes also was an aide to St. Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin.
McLaughlin is not discouraged and if anything is putting as much emphasis in keeping the team's mental outlook on the upbeat as he is on the x's and o's.
"It's increasingly hard when they're doing the best they possibly can and they're competing the whole time and they're not getting the results at the end," McLaughlin said of his players. "What's unfortunate is I see what they're putting into it, I see what it means to them, and they're coming up short every time.
"So I'm kind of like a coach here but also dealing with trying to help them succeed in a lot of ways.They're doing the best they can."
Meanwhile the Tigers whom McLaughlin left behind continue to maintain his legacy under new coach Mark Miller, who came from Norwich University in Vermont.
Catherine Carr scored 19 points Saturday as Holy Family (6-1, 3-0 CACC) beat Georgian Court at the Tigers' Campus Center in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.
Holy Family has now racked up 88 straight regular season wins in the conference, four short of the Division II in-season record of the 92 by St. Rose between 1996 and 1999.
The Tigers have also won 76 straight when holding opponents under 60 points.
Looking ahead, St. Joseph's and Drexel meet at the Hawks' new Hagan Arena Sunday in a game in which both teams are looking to get untracked. La Salle will be at Delaware going against freshman sensation Elena Delle Donne and also perhaps having to contend with a Blue Hens' large home crowd after coach Tina Martin's squad played before over 3,000 people in Friday night's home-opening win over Navy.
In New York, Rutgers and Tennessee tangle again, this time as part of the Maggie Dixon Classic and there is an Associated Press advance posted under this one.