This item originally appeared in the March 24, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.
By Josh Milton
A second-half surge of energy sparked Temple University to victory and shocked the Lady Techsters 66-61 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn., on March 20.
Temple's Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, Candice Dupree, scored 20 points, 16 in the second half, and grabbed 11 rebounds to thrust the sixth-seeded Owls (28-3) to their 25th straight win -- the longest streak in the nation.
The 11th seeded Lady Techsters (20-10) controlled the first half and earned a 42-30 lead at the 16-minute mark of the second half until the Owls turned up the heat with ball pressure on Tech's guards and a clinic at the free throw line.
Temple ended the game on a 36-19 run and hit 16 of 20 free throws, compared to Tech's three free throws in the second half. The Owls also hit three three-pointers and forced 13 Tech turnovers in the final stanza, many of which resulted in transition buckets.
Tech head coach Kurt Budke was not pleased with his team's focus and effort in the second half.
"It was a tale of two halves," Budke said.
"I thought we played exceptionally well on both ends of the court in the first half but then struggled in the second half. Officiating didn't cost us this game, but I thought they changed the way they called in the second half, as opposed to the first. Temple pressed us for the entire second half, and they were the ones who shot 20 free throws while we shot three. I think it took some of our aggressiveness away."
After Temple chiseled away the Lady Techsters' lead and actually took a 50-48 lead on a bucket by Khadija Bowens, Crain made a jumper to tie it with 8:10 remaining.
The Owls and Lady Techsters slugged it out for the next six minutes until senior guard Erica Taylor's three-pointer tied the game at 61 with 2:08 to play.
Temple sank three free throws on their next two possessions to open a three-point lead with 36.7 seconds remaining, and Tech called a timeout to set up a desperation play.
Tech in-bounded the ball, and Taylor came across a screen at the top of the three-point line for an open look but misfired. Tamika Kursh grabbed the offensive rebound and passed it to Taylor for another game tying three-pointer, but the ball went in and out and bounced into Dupree's hands, who sealed the win with two free throws.
Taylor scored 13 points and provided the much-needed spark in Tech's rally but could not sink the clutch three-pointer. Tasha Crain, the Western Athletic Conference's Player of the Year, recorded 28 points, four rebounds, four steals and two assists in the Lady Techsters' 24th straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Sophomore guard Shan Moore registered eight points, while senior guard Lakiste Barkus finished her career with five points. Aarica Ray-Boyd added four points, and Kursh chipped in three.
While the 11th seed was the lowest ever for a Lady Techster team, Tech is one of only two teams to make all 24 NCAA Tournaments -- the other being the University of Tennessee -- and has the second highest NCAA Tournament win total with 65, where Tennessee is first with 85 wins.
Tech finished its season with a 20-10 overall record and 14-4 WAC record, and the Lady Techsters shared the 2005 regular season conference title with the Rice Owls before losing the conference tournament for the first time in ten years.