Everything was different. The Liacouras floor was transformed from the iconic hardwood donning the legendary John Chaney name to a barren concrete floor with dozens of tables adorned with black tablecloths. And buffets were placed on both sides of the floor in place of the baskets. There was the grand stage with the monogrammed T on the podium. Finally, there were the student-athletes who swapped out their sweaty jerseys for slick suits and colorful dresses. Even the coaches were all business as they readied for a special evening for their athletes.
The stage was set not for another basketball game but the Stella’s, Temple’s student-athlete awards that were back after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic. This made the event that much more special for many of the athletes who were attending for the first time. The beaming smiles and excited murmurs were audible and seen from across the arena.
The first award of the night: The Community Service award went to junior attacker on the lacrosse team Riley McGowan who has spent many years and countless hours working with the Harlem Lacrosse youth program, a program that provides disadvantaged children the opportunity to play lacrosse. Senior football offensive lineman, Isaac Moore, took the award on the men’s side thanks to his time volunteering with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of Pennsylvania. Moore also serves as an English instructor to help teach Afghan refugees the language.
The Comeback Player of the Year went to soccer forward sophomore Milana D’Ambra who came back from three surgeries on the same knee over the past five years. Basketball’s freshman guard Jahlil White took the honor on the men’s side after missing all of last season. This season, White played in every game, becoming a starter and making a big impact for the Owls.
Newcomer of the Year went to freshmen Anna Novoseltseva on the fencing team who in her debut season for the Owls qualified for the NCAA Championships after finishing seventh at regionals and earning All-Region Second Team honors. At Nationals, the foilist placed 21st to help lead the Owls to a 16th place finish overall.
Zach Hicks took the honors on the men’s side with a stellar season for the Owls, being named to the All-AAC Freshman Team while averaging more than eight points and four rebounds per game. Against Delaware State, Hicks erupted for 35 points, tying the Temple freshman scoring mark while setting a school record with 10 threes.
The evening came to a crescendo with the Performer of the Year awards. On the women’s side, the judges had their work cut for them with three phenomenal nominees: Belle Mastropietro, a
perennial scorer on the lacrosse team, gymnast Ariana Castrence and basketball star Mia Davis. After a heavy moment of suspense, it was the all-time leading scorer in Davis who took home the prestigious award. Davis was also named a Cheryl Miller Award Finalist for the third year in a row, while being named to the All-AAC First Team for the fourth-consecutive year.
It all culminated on the men’s side with another impressive palette of nominees. Golfer Conor McGrath had just finished the conference tournament at the AAC championships down in Florida over the weekend. Then there was basketball standout guard Damian Dunn who dazzled for the Owls all season after taking over following Khalif Battle’s injury. However, it was the rower from England who took home the night’s most prestigious award to the great shock of his teammates. “If it wasn't for the team I would not be here today,” an ecstatic Adam Oliver said after the ceremony. “Hearing my name is amazing. I was sure Dunn was going to beat me tonight but super happy it was me.”
Oliver is one of two returners from last year's Varsity 8 and is among four other international athletes in the top boat.
Overall, The Stella’s were a monumental success among the athletes and coaches and hopefully will provide everyone with a bit of motivation going into the summer to be in contention for these awards come next April, 2023.
The Owls had a hard-fought victory over St. John's Wednesday afternoon at the TU Pavillon, remaining undefeated there for the ninth straight season. However, that record was under serious pressure against a talented Red Storm (14-4) that was fresh off a victory against Marquette.
St. Johns was looking to replicate its performance from a year ago having taken down the Owls in New York. Leo Raquin and Henrique Petiz from the number one position lost their match 6-3 to the Japanese/British pairing. However, the Owls clinched the doubles point thanks to wins from Marin Delmas/Louis Gorregues (6-4) and Gregoire Barety/Hussein El Tawil (6-4) from the two and three positions.
Every Owl did double duty lining up for singles action just minutes later. Delmas defeated his opponent from the number one position with minimal fuss 6-2, 6-2 improving his record to 12-4 on the season. Raquin from the four spot gave the Owls a 3-0 lead with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Puerto Rico’s Ignacio Garcia avenging his defeat from a year ago.
The Owls looked well on their way to yet another straightforward win in front of the home crowd, that included the likes of Athletic Director Arthur Johnson watching from the sidelines. “What a great day for tennis, tennis is meant to be played outside,” Johnson said, musing over the performance and the weather.
However, the momentum shifted with things starting to unravel for the Owls freshmen Henrique Petiz from Portugal and El Tawil from Egypt, the latest editions to the Owls lineup. Petiz was playing boldly from the number three position but began cramping midway through the third set. Petiz fought on ripping winners from the forehand wing but ultimately lost 6-1, 2-6, 4-6 against Yaron Hubberman from Israel.
Meanwhile, on court 5, it was a similar fate for El Tawil who was up 7-5, 3-2 before falling in three sets 7-5, 6-7, 2-6, with cramps settling in for the Egyptian freshman. All of a sudden the Owls' lead had dwindled to 3-2 and with Gregoire Barety down a set and a break against his Japanese opponent, all eyes were on Owls Louis Gorregues and his opponent, Carl Gustavsson from Sweden, who were locked in a third set battle. Gorregues had an opportunity to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third before tightening up with his opponent's visibility cramping between points. Gorregues broke back and sealed the victory for the Owls 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.
“One of the best wins of my career. I stayed locked in focused on my game,” an elated Gorregues said following the victory.
“The difference was not how hard you hit but how smart you play. A moment Louis will remember the rest of his life, ” Coach Steve Mauro said.
The Owls will travel to Tulsa to play their last match of the season before the American Athletic Conference tournament next week.
Coming off the worst loss of the season to Syracuse, the Temple Owls managed to dismantle one of the top teams in the American Conference in Vanderbilt by a final score of 20-9.
It’s been a long road for junior Riley McGowan, after missing all of last season due to injury. But on Saturday, she had her best game of her collegiate career, scoring a career-high seven goals in the win.
“I think everyone was just working together on the defensive end which then fed into the offensive end,” said McGowan. “The chemistry was just really strong between everyone. Work together to get everyone open, and I just happen to be open.”
Last week’s loss to Syracuse was undoubtedly the worst loss of the season, as the Owls surrendered a season-high 22 goals in a 22-7 blowout loss. That resulted in the added preparation that led up to this game and ultimately led them to Temple’s best win of the season.
“I think playing Syracuse was a great opportunity, and we got to learn a lot. It was a fast game. We kinda started over on Monday and prepared for Vanderbilt. And we took the past 5-6 days to work on our offense, work on our defense, and put it all together out on the field today,” McGowan said.
Only four games are remaining on the Owls' schedule, and all of their upcoming opponents are in-conference. Those teams include Cincinnati, East Carolina, Florida, and Old Dominion. This final stretch will likely determine the team’s entire outlook on their season.
“This is so much fun. This time of year is so much fun,” said Coach Bennie Rosen when asked about this final stretch. “We’ve been on this non-conference journey, and now it begins. To be able to start out with this win against Vanderbilt is huge.”
Outside of McGowan, graduate student Quinn Nicolai scored four goals, and now leads the team with 37 goals on the year.
Graduate student goalkeeper Annie Caroll had a huge bounce-back game, as she had six saves in net.
The Owls' next game isn’t until next Saturday when they play the Cincinnati Bearcats at Howarth Field. The Bearcats are on a two-game win streak, and they have an overall record of 6-6, while not playing any conference opponents as of yet.
The Owls were looking to earn back-to-back victories for the first time since the spring 2021 season but instead ended in a frustrating 2-2 tie against the NJIT Highlanders on Saturday at the Temple Sports Complex. These spring games are all exhibition games to help get the team ready for the official fall season.
After a rainy start, junior midfielder Fabian Grant opened up the score at the six-minute mark to give the Owls a 1-0 advantage. Following the first goal, the Owls were unable to put the game away as they saw NJIT tightened up its defense, growing more aggressive by the minute resulting in a few yellow cards.
In just his third game back from his foot injury that kept him out for most of the fall, goalie Eoin Gawronski was unable to make it three scoreless games in a row as NJIT tied it up early in the second half. “I don’t think he's at fault for any of the goals. He really had a pretty quiet day, ultimately,” said head coach Brian Rowland.
Another player who has stepped up in the eyes of Rowland is freshman forward Xavier Rimpel, creating an attack that resulted in a few shots down the stretch. “He's a guy that came from minute one when we were out here in January in the freezing cold. He's come out working really hard. He really wants to put a stamp on the team,” an excited Rowland said.
NJIT took the lead with 15 minutes to go as it capitalized on the holes in the Temple defense. However, just four minutes later freshman defender Luka Kozomara tied the game with his first goal in an Owls uniform with just over ten minutes left. Neither team got good looks in the final minutes of play ending in a 2-2 draw.
Sophomore forward Mike Eijgendaal, who scored the lone goal in the Owls 1-0 victory over Loyola Maryland on March 20th, was unable to add to his goal tally. “He'll probably be upset that maybe those didn't go in, but some days you don't have it. And other days, you know, he'll score those 10 times over,” an optimistic Rowland explained.
The Owls were more aggressive offensively down the stretch but Rowland was disappointed in the missed opportunities as the Owls created 11 shots to the Highlanders nine. The Owls also had nine corners on the day. However, Rowland was pleased with the fight and spirit his players had as they continue to learn how to put these kinds of games away.
“I think we faded a little bit in the second half. I think there are some positives, even in the end obviously you're disappointed we gave up the lead, but at least we were able to come back and tie it up,” Rowland said.
The Owls travel to New Jersey to take on Rider, Saturday, April 2 at noon.
The Temple men’s basketball team celebrated Hooter’s birthday and the team’s seniors in its regular-season finale with a win over South Florida on Sunday, 75-47. This was a bounce-back game for the Owls, who lost by 38 points to nationally-ranked Houston just three days earlier.
Throughout the season, Damian Dunn has been the team’s leader and go-to scorer, and he continued to show that Sunday with a game-high 27 points.
“I don’t want to put that title on it. It’s a lot of things that I bring to the table just besides that side of the ball which is making guys better, which is something that I’ve been trying to really work on,” Dunn said.
One of the other many highlights of the season was witnessing the growth of freshman Zach Hicks. In his first season with the Owls, Hicks was able to solidify himself as the team’s biggest threat from beyond the arc. Hicks was 4-for-9 from three-point land on Sunday. He was asked about how opposing teams have made more of an effort in defending him after his terrific performance against Delaware State back in December when he hit a program-record number of three-pointers.
“Obviously definitely after Delaware State, I made the ten threes. In the first game of the season, I was 50% from three. I’m still a freshman, and people didn’t really notice,” Hicks said.
This has been head coach Aaron Mckie’s best year of coaching. Last season, the Owls finished near the bottom of the American with a record of 5-11. This season, Temple’s 10 conference wins and 17 wins overall is good for the fourth seed. And McKie is likely to get some consideration for conference coach of the year.
“Last year we didn’t have a summer. And I know it’s making excuses, but we had incoming freshmen, true freshmen. They didn’t get a chance to get in the weight room. Even in the fall, we didn’t get a chance to get in the weight room. We didn’t get a chance to practice. We had the Covid stoppages,” Mckie said.
With the regular season now in the rearview mirror, the Owls head to Ft. Worth, Texas for their quarterfinal game Friday versus fifth seed Tulane. The Green Wave finished at 13-14 overall, including a split with Temple. Friday’s tips off at 3pm.
By Matthew Aquino, OwlSports Update
It was a collaborative effort Sunday afternoon as the Owls had five players score in double digits. Temple men’s basketball (16-10, 9-6) beat Tulane University (12-13, 9-7) 75-70 moving the Owls into the number four seed in conference, currently giving them a crucial first-round bye in the upcoming AAC tournament.
The Green Wave started the game on an 8-0 run, but Temple got a lift from Zach Hicks off the bench early. Hicks scored 15 points and shot 50 percent from downtown that included adding a four-point play early in the first half to cut the lead. The Owls shot 42 percent from beyond the arc and 44 percent for the game.
“His shot-making ability energizes our guys, it energizes the crowd, and I like him in that role,” said head coach Aaron Mckie. “I like him in that role, coming off the bench and letting it fly.”
The Owls came out on fire in the second half with an 8-0 run behind freshmen guards Hysier Miller and Jahlil White giving Temple a 37-31 lead.
Tulane was not to be denied and kept the game close by forcing turnovers and getting to the free throw line consistently. The Green Wave forced the Owls into 21 turnovers and scored 22 points off of those miscues. Tulane shot 84 percent from the stripe and attempted 32 free throws.
“We played hard but we didn’t play smart,” said Mckie.
Despite sloppy play and poor shooting from the line, the Owls were able to overcome their miscues with solid defense and rebounding.
The Owls outrebounded Tulane 45-28 and had 12 offensive rebounds. White chipped in with a career-high 12 boards, posting his second double double of the season.
“My coaches want me to go out and rebound and defend my ass off every game so I feel like that's what I've been trying to do all season and I'm doing my best,” said White.
After struggling to find his shooting stroke against Memphis and Cincinnati in the past two games, Damian Dunn was able to break out and led the Owls with 19 points.
“You know, just keep attacking and not really get too down on myself, just knowing that those little slumps or whatever you call them don't last forever,” said Dunn.
Dunn came up big late in the game when he drove in the lane and got fouled while converting a layup to increase the Owls lead to 71-66 with 40 seconds remaining.
The win splits the season series between the teams but there is a chance that the Owls could end up playing the Green Wave in the AAC tournament.
“Same exact game plan, slow them down from three, make smart decisions on offense, and just defend,” said White on a potential third matchup with Tulane.
The Owls now sit at fourth place in the AAC standings and will try to continue the momentum when they travel to Texas on Thursday to take on the number one team in the conference, the Houston Cougars (24-4, 13-2).
Miles Bailey, OwlSports Update
The Temple women’s basketball team (12-12, 7-6) dropped another lopsided game on Wednesday night at Houston, 80-60. This is the second-straight game where Temple has fallen by 20 or more points.
The Owls got off to a rough start, as Houston had managed to take a 17-10 lead at one point during the first quarter. After that, the Owls were able to draw closer and actually tied the game at 23 midway through the second quarter. A three-pointer by Caranda Perea gave the Owls their first lead since taking a 1-0 lead to start the game.
Houston was able to go on a 5-0 run to take back the lead with only 1:02 remaining in the half, and this led to a 33-29 halftime lead for the Cougars.
Turnovers were once again a big problem for the Owls as they committed 24 on the night, compared to Houston’s 14. Temple’s leading scorer Mia Davis also sat out for a long period of time during the second quarter because she had already committed two personal fouls.
The game got out of hand in the third when Houston went on an 8-0 run to take a 43-31. The Owls did not score a basket until the 5:47 mark of the 3rd quarter when Davis laid in two of her team-high 24.
The Owls defense was very suspect, as they let Houston convert 52 percent of its field goal attempts and 50 percent from three-point range.
The Owls are back at McGonigle Hall, as they will take on the Tulane Green Wave on Saturday at noon. Tulane is one of the best teams in the American Athletic Conference, riding an eight-game win streak. They are 10-4 against conference opponents and 20-7 overall.
By Matthew Aquino, OwlSports Update
It started bad and never really got any better. Temple University women’s basketball (12-11, 7-5) fell to the University of Central Florida (20-3, 12-1) by a score of 68-31 on Saturday afternoon.
The 37-point loss is the most lopsided of the season for Temple. The Owls could not muster up any offense for the entire game, scoring below double digits in every quarter and turning the ball over 21 times.
“That's not the type of product I want to put on the floor, and we just weren’t good on any fronts today,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza.
The Knights pressing defense stifled the Owls all game, limiting them to just 21 percent from the field and 1-12 from downtown. The Owls leading scorer, Mia Davis, struggled the entire game, scoring just one point, her lowest total since her freshman year.
“They basically didn’t let you find her and whenever she caught the ball there was a second person there so anything she tried to do was going to be forced,” Cardoza said.
Coming out of halftime the Owls showed some life when freshman forwards Kyra Wood and Caranda Perea made back-to-back shots, but the Knights quickly responded with a 9-0 run and took a commanding 37-18 lead.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance because we turned the basketball over, we didn’t give ourselves a chance because we allowed them to get easy opportunities,” Cardoza said.
UCF shot 45 percent for the game and 45 percent from beyond the arc. The Owls were unable to stop junior guard Alisha Lewis, who was 4-5 for three for the game.
The Knights have now won both meetings against the Owls this season, beating them in Orlando by nine points on Jan. 31.
After starting the last four games and leading the Owls in scoring with seven points Saturday afternoon coach Cardoza said Kyra Wood will continue to start for the Owls and added that she has been playing well and is disciplined.
Cardoza was disappointed at how the Owls started the game and thought they didn’t show any fight.
“I don’t think we showed up to fight, I felt like we rolled over right pretty much from the first quarter,” Cardoza said.
The Owls will look to bounce back on the road Wednesday when they take on Houston (12-12).
Miles Bailey, OwlSports Update
Two of the Owls best scorers in Jeremiah Williams and Damian Dunn were on the bench nursing injuries Wednesday night. Without those two players, the Owls (14-9, 7-5) still managed to beat the American Athletic Conference’s second-best team in the SMU Mustangs by a final score of 64-57.
The star of the night goes to guard Tai Strickland, who led the team with a career-high 27 points, including some key free throws to ultimately seal the win.
“Like I said, many guys can step up. We have great guys,” Strickland said when asked about being the team’s leading scorer in the game. “The driving lanes were open, and that’s kinda what I do best. I can get in gaps, create contact, get to the free throw line, and get a bucket.”
While this win was certainly unexpected, it came with its fair share of struggles as Temple played from behind almost the entire game. It forced the team to make some adjustments which ultimately turned the tide of the game.
“We hang our hat on defense. So, eventually, they were just scoring on us. So, late in the game, we got to put our foot down and get stops, and I feel like that’s what we did,” Jahlil White said. SMU shot just 38 percent from the field.
Even with the absences of Williams and Dunn, the team’s game plan leading up to the game didn’t change.
“No, not at all. It wasn’t different one bit. We just defend, and have fun on offense, and share the ball. That’s our game plan,” White said.
This was a statement win not only for the team, but for Coach Aaron McKie’s coaching career here at Temple, and it will go down as one of the marquee victories during his coaching tenure.
“It’s certainly up there. You take into consideration the circumstances that we’re under. It’s a good win versus a good team. They were underhanded tonight, so were we”, McKie said.
A real strength of this team has been its ability to lock in during the final stretch of games. The Owls ended the game on a 22-7 run to put it away.
“Just collective, having these guys in the summer. Talking them through, we do situations. Whether you guys, believe it or not, we shoot a lot of free throws at the end of practice with the music on with the music off. Sometimes you see the results in a good way, sometimes you don’t, but we do practice all of those things,” McKie said.
The Owls will hit the road for their next two games, as they will take on the Cincinnati Bearcats on Friday at 2pm. Cincinnati is on a two-game losing streak. They have a 6-6 record against conference opponents and are 16-9 record overall.
By Matthew Aquino, OwlSports Update
Temple lacrosse comes into the 2022 season with high expectations.
After finishing 13-6 last spring and winning their first NCAA tournament game in over a decade, the Owls are looking to build on that success. It’s just another step in the right direction for a team that was five games under .500 just three years ago.
Coach Bonnie Rosen, who has coached the team for 15 years, couldn't have asked for a more successful season in 2021. She noted that this year’s team is a lot younger and still searching for its identity.
“This is a new team, it's a new season so we’re really starting where we are today and that's kind of what we do,” said Rosen. “We take things step by step each day.”
After losing two of its three top scorers in Bridget Whittaker and Meghan Hoffman to graduation, the team will look to the current roster and newcomers to help fill the void.
The Owls have added five freshmen and three transfers to the roster. Preseason AAC Midfielder of the Year Belle Mastropietro will look to duplicate her success from 2021. She scored 43 goals and added 12 assists.
Mastropietro believes the team is focused and can get back to the NCAA tournament this year.
“I think this season so far we focused a lot offensively, defensively just on a lot of different things that we need to do well to win,” Mastropietro said.
Losing players in 2021 opens the door for new leaders in 2022. Senior defender Nina has emerged ready to take on that role.
“I absolutely feel like a leader of this team,” said Heyn. “It’s definitely hard to step in a role like that, especially when it's all your friends. It’s kind of awkward to have to correct your friends and stuff but at the end of the day there is a lot of mutual respect between us and you know we love each other so it’s turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.”
Not only have the Owls added leaders on the field but also on the sideline. Former Villanova attacker Liz Trojan is the newest assistant coach.
During her time at Villanova, Trojan scored more than 100 goals and had 23 assists. She suffered a career-ending injury at the start of the 2021 season and has now made the transition to coach full time.
“She’s great, you know she really came in and just became a very essential asset to our team,” said Heyn. “She's very vocal which I can appreciate, she has no problem speaking up and telling us what we need to do.”
No. 22 Temple will start the journey to the NCAA tournament at Howarth Field on Saturday when the Owls host their first-ever meeting with the Army Black Knights.