Women’s Basketball: With Owls, game is personal

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 19 — As LaKeisha Eaddy stole junior Antelia Parrish’s inbounds pass in the final seconds and Temple’s 68-66 lead over No. 20/13 (AP, ESPN/USA Today) GW turned into the final score, Liacouras Center erupted. An excited Owls bench emptied onto the court while the stunned Colonials filtered through the celebration on the way back to the sidelines.

After the game, Temple senior Ashley Morris initially tried to describe GW (14-4, 2-1 Atlantic 10) as being just another conference opponent before her enthusiasm eventually broke through.

“I mean, it’s G-Dub,” Morris said, alluding to the familiarity between the two schools. “We have players here that have played before (who tell the younger players) the rivalry we have with them.”

Freshman Lindsay Kimmel, playing against the Colonials for the first time, said history lessons were not necessary to inspire her team-high 15-point performance.

“I’ve come down and seen them play a few times,” Kimmel said of GW. “Coming in, I had a chip on my shoulder with them.”

GW and Temple (9-10, 2-1 A-10) have had a number of hard-fought and memorable battles in recent memory. When the Colonials finished as A-10 regular season co-champions in 2006 (with Charlotte), it was Temple who knocked them off to win the conference tournament. A year later, GW held off the Owls in a tightly contested win at Smith Center to conclude the regular season. Since head coach Dawn Staley took over at Temple in 2000, the Colonials lead the series 9-5.

“To beat GW – it’s bragging rights,” Staley said of her team’s victory. “It’s a great win for our young, growing basketball team.”

The stakes of the contest were apparent on the court. Both teams played tough, physical styles with a lot of contact in the paint. Senior Whitney Allen received a technical foul for her reaction to an out-of-bounds call in the second half. During a stoppage of play in the game’s final seconds, when a Temple victory appeared likely, Morris sprinted to her team’s bench and exchanged triumphant shouts with her teammates and coaches.

But the rivalry was not the only source of motivation in the game. Beyond being nationally ranked, the Colonials are six-time defending regular-season conference champions and were unanimously selected by coaches and media before the season to continue the streak.

Junior Jessica Adair said she felt GW’s reputation preceded them.”Every team in the A-10 knows that we’re the top dog,” Adair said. “They’re after us, so we just have to play harder.”

GW head coach Joe McKeown said that a similar dynamic unfolded in a contest between the teams two years ago, when the Colonials upset then-No. 17 Temple in overtime at the Liacouras Center. Sarah-Jo Lawrence, who led all scorers with 17 points Saturday, was the leading scorer in that game as well.

“I think it’s hard when you’re 13th in the country and you’ve beaten some of the non-conference teams we beat,” McKeown said. “You’re the target for everybody’s best shot.”

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