Sophomore forward Kristen McCarthy and the women’s basketball team dominated Ohio, 65-43, to improve to 8-1 and a perfect 3-0 against the Mid-American Conference.
Temple was tested by the Bobcats (3-5) early, leading by a mere one point late in the first half. The Cherry and White responded with a 8-0 run in the final 2 minutes, 20 seconds of the first half, entering the break leading, 29-20.
The nine point halftime lead didn’t come cheap, however, as junior guard Shaqwedia Wallace, who entered the game as the team’s leading scorer at 15.6 points per game, left the court with a head injury with just under five minutes remaining in the first half.
“We just know that she got poked in the eye,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said after the game. “They took her up to the hospital to see if anything was wrong.”
McCarthy, who led all Temple scorers with 15 points, posted her second highest point total of the year. Despite the lack of Wallace in the second half, there was no extra pressure on the reigning Big 5 Rookie of the Year, McCarthy said.
“[Wallace] is a great offensive threat,” McCarthy said. ”When she’s not on the floor it does make people have to step up, but I was just trying to play within the offense. Coach just wanted all of us to be more aggressive in general with taking shots and everything.”
Senior guard Kristie Watkins-Day and sophomore guard BJ Williams also helped fill the hole left by Wallace’s absence. Watkins-Day, who played ten of her 18 minutes in the second half, scored a season high eight points in the win. Williams finished the game with seven points and three steals.
“Both of those guys did a really good job being offensive minded,” Cardoza said. “[Watkins-Day] was able to get the free throw line and make some free throws. [Williams], just having her out on the floor, makes things happens. She’s another passer out there, and someone that can knock down an open jump shot. I like having [Williams] out on the floor.”
The second half belonged entirely to Temple, as the Cherry and White went on three large runs of 7-0, 7-0 and 8-0, respectively. 18 of the Owls’ 36 second half points came off of turnovers. In the end, the Owls had 33 points off Ohio’s 31 turnovers.
The Owls entered the game leading the Atlantic Ten Conference with 12.1 steals. That average also ranked ninth in NCAA Division 1. Ohio’s 31 turnovers tied Dartmouth for the most by a Temple opponent this year.
“Our pressure defense was pretty good,” Cardoza said. “We gave up a lot a lot of easy shots, but we were able to force some turnovers and that was definitely able to open up the second half for us.”
Sophomore guard Da’Keisha Mann led the Bobcats with 16 points. Ohio shot 36.2 percent as a team.
The Owls are now 8-1 on the year, the best start by a Temple team in almost 30 years. The 1981 team started off 9-0 en route to a 13-1 start. Despite the successful start, the team must continually improve, Cardoza said.
“Obviously, our record shows one thing, but we’re striving to be a better basketball team,” Cardoza said. Yes, we’re 8-1 but there are a lot of things we need to do to become better. That’s taking care of the ball and making easy shots.”
“Hopefully our record will continue to get better, but I want us as a basketball team to get better as well,” Cardoza added.
The game marked the third time that the Owls have faced a MAC opponent this year and the third time they’ve beaten a MAC opponent by double digits.
“That’s how it’s worked out,” Cardoza said. “Hopefully we can beat up on some other conferences as well and not just the MAC.”
Game Notes: Senior forward Jasmine Stone recorded ten boards, her fourth double-digit rebound performance of the year and second straight… Freshman forward Natasha Thames, coming off the bench for the third straight game, tied her career high with ten points… The announced attendance of 1,042 was the largest McGonigle Hall crowd all year for the Owls… After shooting a pedestrian 62.5 percent at the charity stripe in the win over Hampton, the Owls shot 12-of-15 from the line on Thursday.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at email@example.com