STORRS, Conn. (AP) -- Temple coach Dawn Staley didn't have to do much talking at halftime. Senior guard Ari Moore took care of it -- loudly.
Her team trailing Louisiana Tech by 12 at the break on Sunday, Moore fired up the Owls with a blistering speech. The nation's longest winning streak and the season were in jeopardy so Moore poured out her frustration."I told the team I didn't want this to be the last 20 minutes of my career," Moore said. "We're a tough, tough bunch. We have been all year."They got the message.The Owls got 16 second-half points from Candice Dupree and rallied to beat Louisiana Tech 66-61 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament."(Moore) has always been our emotional leader," Staley said. "We're standing outside the locker room listening to what she is saying. Some of it you can hear, some needs to be censored. But that's why as coaches we don't have to rant and rave because she's already hit them with that."The sixth-seeded Owls (28-8) have not lost since Dec. 4 and extended their winning streak to 25 games. Temple will play Rutgers, a 62-37 winner over Hartford, in a second-round game Tuesday.They were down by as many as 13 points in a turnover-plagued first half. Temple used a 15-4 run midway through the second half to catch the 11th-seeded Lady Techsters (20-10), who have appeared in all 24 NCAA Tournaments.Early on it appeared Louisiana Tech would be sticking around this one a little longer. It opened the game with an 18-6 run, getting eight from Erica Crain in that stretch.The speedy Crain and backcourt mate Erica Taylor pushed the tempo the entire first half and the Owls nearly self-destructed with a dozen turnovers. The physical nature of the first half also frustrated the Owls and fired up Staley, who was whistled for a technical with 30 seconds to go.A regrouped Owls squad took the floor in the second half with Dupree and Khadija Bowens leading the charge. Bowens scored the first nine points in the Owls' key 15-4 that capitalized on three straight Lady Techsters turnovers. Dupree capped the spurt with a pair of free throws and Temple led 58-52."I think some of the things Ari had to say hit me pretty hard," Dupree said. "I knew after the first half was over I had to pick it up."Crain and Taylor brought the Lady Techsters back with a 9-3 run that tied it at 61 with 2:14 left. A pair of free throws by Kamesha Hairston with 1:40 left put Temple ahead for good and Dupree then took over on defense. She blocked Taylor's shot with a minute to go and then pulled down a defensive board on Tech's next possession.Louisiana Tech coach Kurt Budke said his team couldn't overcome its mistakes in the second half."It was definitely a tale of two halves," he said. "Us with 13 turnovers in the second half and them getting to shoot 20 free throws was huge in the second half."Dupree had a game-high 11 rebounds, getting eight on the defensive end.Hairston finished with 15 points and Bowens added 13.Crain led Louisiana Tech with 28 points and Taylor finished with 13.Moore ended up with 11 points, six boards and plenty of gratitude for her teammates."I want to thank them for extending my career another 40 minutes," she said.