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

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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.

Matt Rhule back in Philadelphia for NFL draft with former Temple players

Matt Rhule back in Philadelphia for NFL draft with former Temple players

Baylor coach Matt Rhule is spending the rest of this week back in Philadelphia, where he will be at the NFL draft with his former Temple players while also touting the Bears.

"I'm there to support my Temple kids, and I'm there to sell Baylor to future recruits, and make sure that all kids that I'm recruiting know that our process is doing things that no one thought was possible," Rhule said Tuesday. "Five kids made NFL teams last year from the Temple Owls."

There will also be appearances on the NFL Network and visits to some of his favorite restaurants -- he made reservations in advance -- in the town where he spent 10 of the past 11 seasons. He is staying in a hotel only about five minutes where he used to live.

Rhule became Baylor's coach in December , fresh off an American Athletic Conference title and a second consecutive 10-win season with the Owls.

The Bears wrapped up their first spring under Rhule with their Green and Gold game Saturday. They spent the 15 spring working on new offenses and defensive schemes, while also taking care of their academics and doing more than 700 hours of community service.

Temple linebacker Haason Reddick , a potential first-round pick, invited Rhule to be with him in the green room at the draft Thursday night. Owls offensive tackle Dion Dawkins is also expected to be a high pick, and Temple has at least two other players that could be drafted in the later rounds.

"I'm there because those kids asked me to come. It's as gratifying an experience as I've ever had," Rhule told the AP by phone before leaving the Waco campus for Philadelphia.

Among the Bears expected to get drafted are receiver KD Cannon, who left Baylor after his junior season, and center Kyle Fuller. Quarterback Seth Russell, who had each of his last two seasons cut short by injuries, could also get an NFL chance.

Rhule first went to Temple as an assistant under Al Golden in 2006, then spent the next decade there -- except for the 2012 season in the NFL as an assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants. He returned to Philadelphia as the Owls head coach in 2013, and they went from 2-10 and 6-6 seasons to the best two-season stretch in school history.

"Those older kids, I think they recognize how hard all of our assistant coaches and myself worked for them, and we recognize how hard they worked for us," he said. "When I left, they understood that this was the next step in my journey, and I understood that going to the NFL was the next step in their journey."

Like he did at Temple, Rhule he wants every kid that comes to Baylor to want to get an education, win conference and national championships, and want to play in the NFL. The goal is for players to try to excel in everything that they do.

"It's not about trying to pick one thing to be great at, it's about trying to be great at everything that's important to you," Rhule said. "That's a major step for kids and for programs."

Temple Spring Game: Process to replace 7 defensive starters begins

Temple Spring Game: Process to replace 7 defensive starters begins

Temple enters the 2017 season without seven of its starters from last year's defense.

A couple will be chosen in the 2017 NFL draft like projected first-round pick DE/LB Haason Reddick and mid-round pick CB Nate Hairston.

The departures of last year's starting linebackers Avery Williams, Stephaun Marshall and Jared Alwan also leave a void in the middle of the defense.

But the Owls aren't short on resources to replace those aforementioned players this upcoming season, and those resources were on display in the Cherry and White Game on Saturday at Edberg-Olson Hall. The Cherry team prevailed 17-14 over the White squad (see offensive recap).

"We have to replace three," head coach Geoff Collins said of the linebackers Saturday. "The development of those young linebackers, they showed up today in a big way. I'm proud of them, I'm excited about it."

Each of the starting linebackers last season had 50-plus tackles. They also combined for 20 percent of Temple's total tackles.

Collins has stressed since the start of Spring practices that he's looking for "above-the-line" players, meaning that a player is talented enough to see significant playing time.

Two front-runners for starting linebacker jobs, Jared Folks and Chapelle Russell, didn't play in the Cherry and White game because of injury and haven't been active during Spring practice. 

Folks racked up 32 tackles, including two tackles for a loss, one interception and one forced fumble last year. Russell had 25 tackles, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.

With Folks and Russell out, fellow linebackers Shaun Bradley and William Kwenkeu were able to showcase their talents Saturday.

"I've seen some leadership emerge out of the young linebackers, as it should," running back Jager Gardner said. "They're really fast, they're really athletic, I see a lot of good things out of them. It's going to be a really scary year for some teams."

"Shaun Bradley sticks out to me," Gardner added. "He's everywhere on the field."

It's no wonder as Bradley led the linebacker group in tackles with five Saturday.

Collins said he wants to have eight linebackers playing at an "above-the-line" level before they kick off the season on the road against Notre Dame on Sept. 2. 

One area of the defense Collins and defensive coordinator Taver Johnson won't have much turnover is the defensive backfield. Starting safeties Sean Chandler and Delvon Randall are both returning, while Artrel Foster and Derrek Thomas will be back on the outside at cornerback.

Foster and fellow cornerback Kareem Ali were each ruled inactive for the spring game Saturday, which gave Mike Jones, a transfer from North Carolina Central, some time on the outside. Jones had 114 tackles, 36 pass break-ups and 11 interceptions in four years at North Carolina Central.

Jones picked off quarterback Logan Marchi and ran it back for 10 yards in the spring game Saturday.

Randall said he has seen improvement since the start of spring practices amongst the defensive backs.

"I see progress every day, day by day," Randall said. "I see a lot of progress. We're just trying to get everyone on the same level. Just pick up from where we left off last year and make it better."

Temple finished third in the NCAA last season in total defense and passing defense.

Randall said it means a lot for him to see guys like Tavon Young and Hairston go into the NFL as he hopes to eventually follow in their footsteps.

But first, he plans on passing along the tips they taught him to the young group of defensive backs on the Owls' roster.

"The main part is work ethic, take no days off," Randall said. "And when you take no days off, it will show eventually."

Two-way flexibility
Collins has repeatedly emphasized positional flexibility since his arrival as the head coach. Wide receiver Keith Kirkwood was lined up at defensive end and picked up a sack in the spring game Saturday.

Bradley, who rushed for over 1,400-yards at Rancocas Valley High School his senior year, got reps at running back on Saturday and carried the ball one time for six yards.

"Seeing the flexibility of our team is just a plus for me," Randall said. "We have enough guys that can do multiple things and it will help during the season."