A promising start to the Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge ended in disappointment for the women’s basketball team as it dropped its final two games of the weekend.
Temple coasted to an 81-58 win over Georgetown on Nov. 21 but followed that up with a 76-56 loss to Kansas on Nov. 22 and a 58-51 defeat at the hands of Alabama on Nov. 23.
Offense was an issue for Temple in the tournament. The team shot 32.8 percent from the field throughout the weekend and is currently ranked No. 302 in the country in field-goal percentage on the season with its mark of 34.7 percent.
Prior to the tournament, the Owls netted point totals of 75 and 74 in respective wins against La Salle and St. Joseph’s.
After Temple’s game against Alabama, coach Tonya Cardoza said confidence had a lot to do with her team’s inability to put the ball in the basket during the tournament.
“I think it’s just confidence,” senior guard Tyonna Williams said. “I think people need to concentrate on the next shot instead of the last one. We have great scorers on this team, players who can score at will, but sometimes we get down on ourselves.”
Defense flourishes early
Despite troubles on the offensive end, the Owls performed well on defense.
The team held two of its opponents in the tournament, Georgetown and Alabama, to less than 60 points, below season averages. Temple also racked up five blocks in each game of the tournament and had nine steals in its final match of the weekend against Alabama.
Cardoza said after the game against the Crimson Tide that playing strong defense is essential for her team, especially when the offense isn’t there.
“It’s not like we are going to score every night, but we are capable of being a good defensive team and that’s what’s most important to me,” Cardoza said. “[What’s important] is that we’re locking people down because we may struggle [offensively] one night, but we should never struggle defensively.”
Owls rely on underclassmen
Early on in the season the Owls are relying on a number of young players.
Three sophomores – Feyonda Fitzgerald, Safiya Martin and Taylor Robinson – have seen significant playing time along with freshmen Allyia Butts and Tanaya Atkinson.
Williams and junior Erica Covile were the only upperclassmen in the team’s starting lineup in each of the Owls’ three games in the tournament, but the experienced Williams said this is nothing new for her.
“We’ve had a young team the last few years,” Williams said. “It’s something I’ve got used to.”
The tournament was a good test for the young Owls team. Butts and Atkinson both saw big minutes throughout the tournament. Butts averaged 21.3 minutes per game throughout the tournament, while Atkinson averaged 26.3 mpg and started all three games.
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com