The Temple and Villanova women's basketball teams are each one victory from facing each other in the semifinals of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, but tough road games and a couple of talented players await on Sunday.
Villanova (22-13) travels to old Big East foe West Virginia, where it will try to halt the Mountaineers' 16-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents at the West Virginia Coliseum (2 p.m.). The defensive-minded Mountaineers, coming off a 60-39 rout of Duquesne, are led by two-time all-Big 12 first-team junior guard Bria Holmes (18.9 ppg.).
"She's big for them, but what they do very well is defend and rebound," Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. "It's always tough playing on the road, especially in the postseason. We are going to have to play a very good all-around game if we're going to win there."
As good as Holmes has been, Perretta is more concerned with the Mountaineers' defense. WVU (21-14) has held opponents under 40 percent shooting in the last six games, holding four teams below 30 percent. Their last two opponents, Hampton and Duquesne, each scored 39 points, season lows for both.
Temple (19-16) will play at 5 p.m. at Middle Tennessee State (24-9), which is 14-3 at home this season. Coming off an 82-70 victory over Mississippi that saw them shoot a season-high 59.6 percent from the field, the Blue Raiders are led by sophomore forward Olivia Jones (19.7 ppg., 8.3 rpg.).
Jones has been helped recently by the emergence of another MTS sophomore. Averaging 11.6 points per game, guard Ty Petty scored a season-high 29 points and had seven assists vs. Ole Miss.
Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said it is crucial for the Owls to slow the Blue Raiders offense, which averages 72.6 points.
"They are good both inside and outside offensively," Cardoza said. "We are going to have to do a good job on the defensive side of the ball because they are really strong there."