PHILADELPHIA - Temple is hoping the New Year can bring a fresh start.
The Owls finished off 2011 the same way they have played most of the season- struggling in the start before making a late charge. Once again they came up short against a Top 25 team, losing 65-54 to No. 8 Duke on Friday night.
Temple trailed by 17 at the half before rallying to within five in the closing minute. The Owls just ran out of time and energy.
"We got to come out how we did the second half at the start of the game,"said senior guard Shey Peddy, who led the Owls with 13 points. "The first half we don't follow the game plan and dig ourselves a big hole and expect to come back and win, we have to change that in the beginning. I feel like we prepare for games. New Year, new Temple team. Everyone starts fresh."
The loss capped a five-game homestand for the Owls, who will travel toWestern Michigan on Monday before opening Atlantic 10 play against Richmond on Jan. 7. Temple is 0-4 against ranked opponents this season, losing to Ohio State, Texas A&M, Rutgers, and now the Blue Devils.
"It's not about the competition. Everyone's talked about a tough schedule, we were in every game except the Rutgers game," Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. "It doesn't matter that the competition now isn't Top 25. If we don't do it against guys in our conference. We're going to lose games too."
Trailing 37-20 at the half, Temple rallied behind Brittany Lewis to get within five. She had 11 of her 13 points after the break.
"I was trying to be a little more aggressive to the basket," Lewis said.
After Elizabeth Williams scored two baskets to make it 57-47 with 5:01 left, Lewis answered with consecutive layups to make it a six-point game again with 2:11 left.
Chelsea Gray just beat the shot clock with a jumper from the top of the key that bounced off the front of the rim and in to make it 59-51 and Temple could only get within five the rest of the way.
"It's another disappointing loss," Cardoza said. "We dug ourselves in a hole, we were a little intimidated and in the second half we played how I thought we would. We made it a game and ran out of gas and didn't take advantage of them. We only had 21 rebounds in the game. You can't win games like that."
With the game tied 4-4, Duke scored 14 of the next 17 points, including two 3-pointers by Tricia Liston-who finished with 20 points to lead the Blue Devils. Kathleen Scheer's putback made it 18-7 with 10:10 left in the first half. Temple cut its deficit to 26-18 with 4:36 left before Duke scored the next 11 points to take control.
Williams had five points during the spurt, including finishing off a fastbreak with a lay-in after Gray had stopped a 3-on-1 break on the other end. The Blue Devils led 37-20 at the half.
Temple scored the first six points of the second half and after Liston hit back-to-back baskets to restore a 15-point lead, the Owls went on a 15-8 run behind Lewis. The junior forward started the spurt with a jump hook in the lane then added a three-point play that made it 45-35. Kristen McCauley's lay-in capped the burst and cut Temple's deficit to 51-45 with 7:17 left.
Williams finished with nine points and 10 rebounds, while Gray had 12 points and seven assists.
"I really like our punch at the end," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said."We did a great job in the first half dictating, you want to keep up that kind of game. We didn't tackle it in the first five minutes in the second half as we would have liked, but I loved our team's resolve. We learned a great lesson in making stops and taking over the game at a critical time."
The Blue Devils will open Atlantic Coast Conference play Monday night at home against Virginia, which is coached by Duke grad and former assistant coach Joanne Boyle.
This was the seventh meeting between the schools, with Duke having won all of them. It was also the Blue Devils' third straight season playing in Philadelphia. They beat Temple two years ago and then lost to Connecticut in the NCAA tournament East regional final last March.