They say the first one is always the toughest.
That wasn’t really the case for Tonya Cardoza.
The first-year coach got her very first win in her very first game on the sidelines for the women’s basketball team as they beat Bowling Green 70-55 Friday night at the Liacouras Center.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” Cardoza said. “My first time out of course I would have some nerves. But once the game started it was out the window.”
Cardoza was hired this summer to replace local legend and friend Dawn Staley who was the all-time winningest coach with a record of 172-80 over eight seasons for Temple.
The Owls were led by junior guard LaKeisha Eaddy, who in her first game at the point, scored 16 points to go along with 4 steals.
“Excellent,” Cardoza said about Eaddy’s performance. “It’s a tough situation but she accepted the role and did a great job tonight.”
Cardoza also got a stellar performance from Shenita Landry. The senior forward scored 11 points with a team-high 17 rebounds and three blocks.
“I just work hard,” Landry said when asked about her success. “Everyday you just have to get better.”
Temple (1-0) jumped out to a 28-18 halftime lead over the Falcons. Bowling Green (0-1) shot just 4-23 from the field and 2-11 from three-point range in the first half.
“Shocking,” Cardoza said of her team’s defensive performance. “In practice it hasn’t been like that. I thought they did a great job of communicating with each other.”
In addition to the production from the veterans like Eaddy and Landry, Temple got contributions from the bench.
Sophomore guard Shaqwedia Wallace scored 13 points with seven rebounds in 21 minutes. Freshman Kristen McCarthy scored four points with three rebounds in her first collegiate game.
“I just prepare for whenever coach puts me in,” McCarthy said.
“Those guys [the bench] are definitely going to help us,” Cardoza said of her bench.
Ultimately, the Owls started off the 2008-2009 season on the right foot and Cardoza has her first win as a head coach after she was an assistant for 14 years at the University of Connecticut.
That should help the new Owls coach finally get some sleep.
“I’m going to enjoy this one for the next two days,” Cardoza said before the Owls travel to No. 20 Auburn Monday night.
There was a minor leak in the Liacouras Center roof. It was speculated that there was a hole caused by gunshots from the Presidential Election last Tuesday… Ashley Morris, who led the Owls in scoring last season before graduating, was in attendance… Temple’s No. 11 Danielle Brinkley, a sophomore forward, played in the final minute. However, she had no last name on the back of her uniform.
Pete Dorchak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.