Temple women's basketball dropped by Oregon in NCAA Tournament 1st round

ap-temple-womens-basketball-oregon-ncaa-tournament.jpg
AP Images

Temple women's basketball dropped by Oregon in NCAA Tournament 1st round

BOX SCORE

DURHAM, N.C. -- Ruthy Hebard hit the biggest shot of the year for Oregon -- then got her hand on the final shot of Temple's season.

"I was kidding Ruthy, this might be the best 5 seconds of her life," Ducks coach Kelly Graves said.

Hebard hit a jumper with 5.5 seconds remaining, then blocked the Owls' layup at the buzzer to preserve Oregon's 71-70 victory on Saturday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

She finished with 23 points and Sabrina Ionescu added 16 points to help the 10th-seeded Ducks (21-13) win a wild game that had three lead changes in the final 30 seconds and advance to Monday night's second-round matchup with second-seeded Duke.

Alliya Butts scored 28 points and Feyonda Fitzgerald added 16 for the seventh-seeded Owls (24-8), in the tournament for the first time since 2011. Fitzgerald put Temple up 70-69 with a jumper with 14.3 seconds remaining.

Oregon called a timeout and dialed up a play the Ducks had repeatedly run for Ionescu. This time, Graves said, he wanted the ball in Hebard's hands.

Mallory McGwire delivered a perfect high-post pass to Hebard, who hit the go-ahead jumper from the edge of the lane.

"I just felt that they were going to give (Ionescu) some added attention, and that Ruthy might be open kind of slipping to the basket," Graves said. "Both defenders kind of went with Sabrina."

The Owls were out of timeouts so they inbounded the ball to Fitzgerald, who then raced coast-to-coast but Hebard got a piece of her last-gasp layup attempt at the buzzer.

Hebard said she "just swung my arm and hoped I didn't foul," while Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said she had no regrets with how the game ended.

"We're going to live and die with her taking the last shot," coach Tonya Cardoza said.

McGwire finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Oregon, which overcame a rough night from 3-point range to win the opener of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005.

Lexi Bando, who makes a Division I-best 50 percent of her 3-pointers, was 0-for-4 from long range for the Ducks before her 3 from the corner tied it at 62 with just under 5 minutes left. It was a one-possession game the rest of the way.

Big picture
Oregon: The Ducks entered as the nation's second-best team from 3-point range, hitting nearly 40 percent of their attempts. They were just 4 of 16 against a Temple team that allows its opponents to shoot just 30 percent from long range.

"We grinded it out, we got stops when we needed to," Ionescu said. "We made big shots down the stretch even though our shots weren't falling like they usually do."

Temple: Ruth Sherrill, a 6-foot forward who had four double-figure scoring games all season, had 10 points by halftime but was held scoreless and missed all five of her shots after halftime while going up against one of the tallest frontcourts in Division I.

"They're a lot bigger than they look on film," Cardoza said.

Star watch
Butts was 12 of 19 from the field and hit all four of Temple's 3-pointers. "When I started shooting, shots started falling," she said, "so I continued to shoot the ball."

Not freshmen anymore
Oregon's three double-figure scorers -- Hebard, Ionescu and McGwire -- were all freshmen, and they combined to take 45 of the Ducks' 67 shots. "I don't think we consider ourselves freshmen anymore," said Ionescu, the Pac-12's freshman of the year. "We have to step up to the level of competition."

He said it
Graves said he was so impressed by Temple's guards that "I would have bought season tickets" to watch them play.

Up next
Oregon: Plays second-seeded Duke on Monday night in the second round of the Bridgeport Regional.

Temple hires Stan Hixon as wide receivers coach

Temple hires Stan Hixon as wide receivers coach

Temple football head coach Geoff Collins announced Thursday that 36-year coaching veteran Stan Hixon has joined the staff as wide receivers coach.

Hixon and Collins previously worked together at Georgia Tech in 1999 when Hixon was the receivers coach and Collins was a graduate assistant.

"We are excited to add coach Hixon to our Temple University football staff," Collins said in a statement. "Stan has established himself as one of the great wide receiver coaches in the NFL and at the highest levels of college football over the past three decades. He brings a tremendous amount of experience and technical expertise to our outstanding group of receivers."

While Hixon has a wealth of experience, one of his standout coaching jobs came recently in 2012-13 as the wide receivers coach at Penn State. Hixon coached former Nittany Lions standout Allen Robinson, who set single-season school records in receptions (97) and receiving yards (1,432) in 2013, and finished his career second in career receptions (177) and third in receiving yards (2,474).

Hixon spent last season as a consultant for the Houston Texans after two seasons as a wide receivers coach for them under head coach Bill O’Brien.

No More NIT: Temple women back in NCAA Tournament as No. 7 seed vs. Oregon

No More NIT: Temple women back in NCAA Tournament as No. 7 seed vs. Oregon

Bridgeport Region | Oklahoma City Region | Lexington Region | Stockton Region

Temple women's basketball finally has been recognized by the NCAA selection committee.

After back-to-back seasons of falling short of the NCAA Tournament and making the NIT, the Owls on Monday were awarded a 7-seed in this year's Big Dance and are set to play 10th-seeded Oregon on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. It's Temple's first tournament bid since 2011.

Each player and head coach Tonya Cardoza either clapped or rose to their feet inside the third floor of McGonigle Hall in excitement to see their hard work rewarded.

"At this point, you're just happy to see your name come across the screen," Cardoza said. "The last time I sat in on one of these, we didn't see our name.

"Everybody's trying to bring their A-game, and trying to upset people if you have to, but right now, you're just happy to be a part of the field of 64."

Cardoza added that she doesn't know much about Oregon. Temple (24-7) didn't face any opponents in the Pac-12 this season.

The Owls will travel south to Durham, North Carolina, for the first and potentially second round of the tournament. With a win over Oregon (20-13), Temple would play the winner of 2-seed Duke vs. 15-seed Hampton in the second round.

But senior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald isn't worried about the others teams in the Owls' Bridgeport Region just yet.

"We're just going to take it one game at a time," she said.

For Fitzgerald and the rest of the senior class, a bid to the NCAA Tournament has been a long time coming.

As a freshman, Fitzgerald was part of an Owls team that went 14-16 -- the worst record under Cardoza.

Temple put up 20-plus wins during her sophomore and junior seasons but fell short of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament each year. It finished in the Final Four of the NIT in the 2014-15 season and the quarterfinals in the 2015-16 season.

"We were always good enough to make it into the NCAA Tournament, but there were always things that stopped us because of something we did," Fitzgerald said. "So this year, we just made sure we did what we had to do, so we wouldn't have to be in the same position."

Last season, the Owls lost four games by three points or fewer. This year, they had a similar problem and lost four games by six points or fewer, but they were much more dominant throughout the season. 

"Let's go dancing," Fitzgerald said.