Halftime speeches are underrated.
The women’s basketball team played a sloppy first half against Ball State Wednesday, and held a slim lead over the Cardinals at the break.
In the locker room, coach Dawn Staley tried to get her team focused.
“I think sometimes you need a wake up call,” she said.
After shooting 39 percent from the field in the first half, Temple shot 60 percent to easily outscore the Cardinals en route to a 72-48 victory at the Liacouras Center.
“It happens,” sophomore guard LaKeisha Eaddy said of the Owls’ first-half struggles. “We knew that when we came back out, we were going to have to be more aggressive.”
Temple (3-4) exploded out of the break, scoring the first two baskets on turnovers forced by Eaddy and senior guard Ashley Morris. Temple outscored Ball State (3-3), 23-10, to open the second half.
“We really concentrated on the weak side of the floor and giving our post players the ball,” Staley said.
The Owls out-rebounded the Cardinals, 50-26, with senior Lady Comfort reeling in 10 rebounds in only 18 minutes. Junior Shenita Landry pulled down seven.
The Owls were aided by their height. Ball State had three players at 6-foot-1. The Owls have five players listed at 6-2 or above, including junior Shanea Cotton, at 6-4.
“Coach made it aware [that] we need to dominate in the paint as well as the perimeter,” Cotton said.
Cotton came off the bench and shot 5-of-7 from the field for 12 points in 19 minutes. She grabbed four rebounds.
Cotton wasn’t the only one who produced off the bench. Freshman Dawnnae Roberts hit two three-pointers, scoring eight points. Sophomore Kristie Watkins-Day scored seven points with five rebounds. The bench scored 38 of Temple’s 72 points.
“The bench knows they’re going to play,” Staley said. “Some are ready to contribute.”
Unlike the Owls, Ball State’s struggles in the first half continued in the second. The Cardinals shot just 26 percent in the first half, followed by a 32 percent clip in the second half.
“We just wanted to be disruptive,” Staley said.
Temple was playing its first home game since Nov. 12, when the Owls opened their season with an 83-45 win over Central Michigan.
“I like our gym,” Cotton said. “I love being back home, I missed it.”
The Owls were on the road for their previous five games, which included a trip to Georgia and another to the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. During that span, Temple faced four nationally-ranked teams, beating No. 22 Purdue and losing to No. 8 Georgia, No. 9 Duke and No. 4 Stanford.
“We played three games in three days [in the Virgin Islands]. I think our kids were just tired,” Staley said.
Said Eaddy: “By us playing these teams in November, it’s preparing us for March. We’re making a name for us, putting Temple on the map.”
Pete Dorchak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.