After coasting to a 23-point win on Friday night, the Owls found themselves on the other end of a lopsided affair Saturday evening as they were downed 76 -56 by the University of Kansas.
Coming back after a late game on Friday night, coach Tonya Cardoza made sure the short turnaround was not an excuse for her team dropping to 2-2 on the year.
“It’s something different, but that’s just the way that it goes,” Cardoza said. “We had to still come ready. Kansas played two hours before us, but they came ready to play.”
Temple came out and started on a positive note. Sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald put in a lay-up to score the first basket of the game and put her team up 2-0. However, that was the last time the Owls would have control in the contest.
The team’s next bucket did not come until freshman Alliya Butts hit a jumper more than seven minutes into the half. Playing on their home court as the hosts of the Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge, the Jayhawks went on a 15-0 run in between the Owls’ first two scores.
The 15 straight points by Kansas was one of two big runs it used in the first half to cruise to a 48-20 lead at the break. If her team is to prevent these types of runs in games later on the year, Cardoza said it will have to start on defense.
“I felt like we weren’t committed to making the extra rotation,” Cardoza said. “We weren’t committed to making sure that we get stops. On the offensive end we were a little erratic because of what was going on at the other end, but I think it is something we’ll learn from.”
Kansas’ early run was fueled by some sharpshooting from outside. After shooting 2 of 15 from behind the arc in their game Friday night against Alabama, the Jayhawks found their stroke, finishing 9 for 21 from deep.
Known more for their presence inside, the Jayhawks’ strong showing from the perimeter, especially the play of their guards, impressed Cardoza.
“They’re not a 3-point shooting team,” Cardoza said. “They usually like to go inside a lot, and today their guards made huge plays for them. Whether it was knocking down a three or putting the ball on the floor they stepped up and played huge for them.”
The 3-point shooting of Jayhawks’ freshman Lauren Aldridge was a big reason for the early lead, as she hit all three of her attempts from downtown in the first half.
Freshmen on both sides played big roles in the game. Along with Aldridge, fellow Jayhawks freshman Chayla Cheadle posted double figures with 11 points.
For the Owls, freshman Alliya Butts continued to play a big role on the offensive end, leading the team in scoring with 19 points.
Butts, who scored eight points in the team’s first game against La Salle, has now reached double digits in each of the past three contests. She has also been the team’s leading scorer in two of those games.
While she has seen signs of promise from her young guard early in her career, Cardoza said Butts still has plenty of room to grow.
“She’s a really good talent,” Cardoza said. “She’s someone who can really score and play on the offensive end, but she’s young and she’s still learning the game and understanding the game. Down the road she’s going to be a great one, but right now we’re trying to teach her to play basketball and how to sit down and control the game, especially on the defensive end.”
Despite their first half struggles, the Owls battled in the second half. The youthful roster was able to rebound and outscore the Jayhawks 36-28 during the final 20 minutes of play.
“We could have easily folded as a young group and lost the game by about 50, but they found something within themselves and continued to fight and cut the lead to about 16,” Cardoza said. “This is a learning experience for them all and I definitely think that we’ll come back from it.”
Temple will tip off against Alabama on Sunday afternoon in its third game of the tournament.
After some sharpshooting of their own in the win against Georgetown, the Owls went just 3 for 10 from 3-point range … Fitzgerald, the team’s leading scoring going into the game, finished with six points. It was her first single-digit output of the season and 14 points below her season average … Freshman Tanaya Atkinson was second on the team in scoring with 12 points. She has now posted double digits in three straight contests.