(Guru’s note: He was actually at the Drexel-Penn State game Friday night, which he led the print roundup for the Inquirer sports section, which could found elsewhere on Philly.com.
But to give Temple its due, here is a re-cast and enhanced roundup after he checked in with the Owls.
The Guru, also corrects here that the game was played in McGonigle Hall. He alluded to Temple’s regular home the Liacouras Center out of force of habit. Call it a senior moment.)
By Mel Greenberg
PHILADELPHIA - Temple’s Tonya Cardoza, in her second season coaching the Owls, has been associated with two Hall of Fame coaches who are getting membership cards to the 700 victory club.
Judging from Friday night’s dramatic comeback from an 18-point deficit early in the second half, as well as 16-pointy deficit with 5:51 left in regulation, to beat Illinois 82-78 in overtime at McGonigle Hall, it is obvious the coaching DNA is rubbing off on the former Virginia star.
Temple is playing seven games in McGonigle Hall near the Liacouras Center which does offer more of a home-court advantage in the smaller arena.
The Owls also began the season without three key players from a year ago. Post players Shenita Landry and Shanea Cotton graduated, while sophomore Lindsay Kimmel, a three-point shooting ace, transferred to Villanova, where she'll be eligible next season.
“It was amazing,” Cardoza said after the season-opener for both teams. “We started to press and force them into turnovers and they didn’t adjust. And once we got the momentum, we just refused to let it go.”
Shaqwedia Wallace set a career high for the Owls with 27 points, while Kristen McCarthy tied a career mark with 19 points.
Illinois’ Jenna Smith, a preseason all-Big Ten conference honoree, had 24 points and 10 rebounds.
“Shaqwedia was sensational,” Cardoza said. “She kept getting steals, but everyone had a hand in this win.”
LaKeshia Eaddy was symbolic of the way the night went for Temple. Struggling most of the way, she suddenly caught fire with a pair of three-pointers that drew the Owls within striking distance of the Illini down the stretch.
It was a tough loss for third-year coach Jolette Law, the former longtime associate head coach to Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer at Rutgers.
Cardoza played for Debbie Ryan, who joined the 700 victory club Friday night after beating back a strong challenge on the road at Maryland-Baltimore County.
“I went with the posts early in the game and then realized I had to go with all guards to get us some speed,” Ryan said.
In terms of the triumphs, which included getting three straight trips to the NCAA Women’s Final Four in the early 1990s, Ryan paid tribute to Cardoza’s good friend Dawn Staley, whom she succeeded last year when Staley, a legendary point guard, left for South Carolina.
“Dawn obviously was involved in a lot of the big wins,” Ryan said of the native Philadelphian
Cardoza also spent 14 seasons as an assistant to Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, who on Saturday night can begin collecting the four wins he needs to get to 700, when the NCAA defending champions open at home against Northeastern.
Meanwhile, Temple’s next game is also in McGonigle Hall Tuesday night when Auburn visits.
While the Tigers are not the same team that stormed the Southeastern Conference last season because of the graduation of key players, such as DeWanna Bonner, another win will be nice for the RPI resume when the two Owl opponents start playing their rugged conference schedules.
Penn State Ruins Drexel’s Opener
Drexel women’s basketball coach Denise Dillon’s hopes of an opening weekend sweep at home were ruined when a Dragons rally fell short and Penn State emerged from the Daskalakis Athletic Center with a 71-61 victory.
The Dragons host Penn Sunday afternoon, which will also mark the debut of new Quakers coach Mike McLaughlin.
Drexel senior Gabriela Marginean scored 27 points and moved within 20 of topping the all-time Dragons women’s scoring record (1,900) set by Michelle Maslowski in 2003.
Jasmina Rosseel added 14 points to the Drexel total.
Penn State’s Tyra Grant scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Janessa Wolff scored 14 points
One would like to say Penn State was in mid-season form late in the first half, rolling to a35-15 lead, except the Nittany Lions last had a winning record in 2004-05.
Nevertheless it was a quality win over the reigning Colonial Athletic Association champions.
“Drexel is tough to play,” said Penn State coach Coquese Washington, who is in her third season in Happy Valley.
We have a young team so I was happy to get a lead and we were able to hold on to it.”
The Dragons got back into the game with a 10-0 run to finish the half and moved to within five points at 56-51 with just over four minutes left in the game before Penn State held firm.
“We’re not going to win games allowing 70 points,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon said. “The biggest problem is we didn’t adjust to what Penn State did. They showed the full-court press with man-to-man pressure and we kind of abandoned everything we do and are known for.
”When a team sets a tempo like that, they’re going to take advantage.”
The game also served as a homecoming for Penn State’s Julie Trogele (Villa Marie Academy), Renee Womack (Methacton High) and Nicole Arcidiacono (Archbishop Wood).
La Salle Felled By Loyola (Md.)
Morgan Robertson and Nadia Duncan each scored 12 points for the Explorers and Antonio Gale added 11 in a 69-55 loss at the Tom Gola Arena. Miriam McKenzie scored a game-high 23 points for the Greyhounds, who are coached by former St. Joseph’s assistant Joe Logan.
New Hampshire Out-Rallies St. Joseph's
Freshman Shelby Smith had 14 points for the Hawks, while Brittany Ford scored 13 points and Amy Gillespie had 11 in a 64-56 loss in Durham, N.H.
St. Joseph’s had come from an early 13-point deficit to take an eight-point lead midway through the second half before New Hampshire mounted its own rally to win the game.