The women’s basketball team’s 21-point win against George Washington on Wednesday, Feb. 15 marked the second straight game the Owls had five players score in double digits.
On only two other occasions this season did four players score at least 10 points in the same game. Both of those games came during play in the Atlantic Ten Conference.
“I think if we had to start over from this point on our record would be different,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I believe that we’re playing really good basketball right now. We have a lot of guys contributing.”
“It’s like a feeling, you know it’s getting closer,” senior guard Kristen McCarthy added. “We’re just trying to seize every moment. We’re playing with a sense of urgency right now and trying to win every game.”
For much of the season McCarthy and senior guard Shey Peddy carried the team, especially in scoring. At 16.6 points per game for Peddy, and 13.4 for McCarthy, they’re the only ones to average in double digits.
But junior center Victoria Macaulay and senior guard BJ Williams have stepped up during conference play, leading to a more diverse offensive attack and a stronger defensive unit.
Williams has 42 points during her last three games, but her job isn’t to score. Her job is to facilitate, and be the coach on the court. She leads the conference with 5.3 assists per game.
“That’s the type of point guard that you like, that knows exactly what’s going on, when to take over, when to take step back because she has other guys that are scoring and feeding them the ball,” Cardoza said. “And now she’s to the point where it’s like she’s that coach on the floor.”
But the real impact has come from Macaulay’s emergence. Once the central reason behind a struggling post game, Macaulay has now become a major threat in the paint. The 6-foot 4-inch center is averaging 10.3 points and 8.9 rebounds in conference play and leads the A-10 with 2.3 blocks per game during conference play.
Macaulay readily admits she didn’t prepare the way she needed to early in the season, but the team is happy she finally showed up.
“[Macaulay’s] emergence is definitely changing our game,” Cardoza said. “Our game plan now changes where we can throw the ball in more often and [we’re] confident that something good’s going to happen.”
“I think it’s very great,” McCarthy added. “Especially last year we had struggled in the post immensely, and now if we can get scoring in the post, and then we have three guys on the perimeter, it makes it that much harder to guard.”
The other, less noticeable, difference provided by the emergence of Macaulay and Williams has been the starting lineup. Cardoza has used the same lineup of Williams, Peddy, McCarthy, senior center Joelle Connelly and Macaulay for eight straight games.
Junior forward Brittany Lewis has lost minutes under the new lineup, but recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds against Massachusetts last week and another 15 points against George Washington as the team’s first option off the bench.
The improved play of Macaulay and Williams has solidified a once inconsistent offense. Temple averaged 60.5 points per game in the first 14 games, and has since averaged 69.1 points in their 12 conference games.
The defense has stiffened, too. The Owls lead the A-10 with 54.9 points allowed per game, rebounding margin, turnover margin, tied for first in blocked shots per game and are second in steals per game.
Even though she doesn’t consider herself a scorer, the offense clearly runs through Peddy, who’s second in the A-10 with 18.2 points per conference game. She’s also second with 3.2 steals per game during that time with conference-leading assist/turnover ratio of 2.4.
Peddy made it her mission before the season to win A-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Cardoza believes she’s still in the running, but Peddy’s offensive capabilities combined with her knack for picking pockets – she tied a school record with 10 steals on Sunday against Rhode Island – could make a case for A-10 Player of the Year instead.
“I still want Defensive Player of the Year,” Peddy said. “I don’t really think about scoring, or trying to score.”
And McCarthy is still a dual-threat with 15 points and 7.1 rebounds per A-10 game, both Top 10 in the conference. She’s an all-around complete player, capable of taking over any given night. But the team now has balance, with the recent emergence of Macaulay and Williams.
“The contributions that [Macaulay and Williams] have made this year, that’s the reason why we’re playing really good basketball, because of the emergence of these two guys,” Cardoza said.
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com.