Defense sets tone in women’s basketball win against Wagner

Temple held Wagner College to 14 first-half points in its 70-36 win on Thursday at McGonigle Hall.

Freshman guard Desiree Oliver (center) drives past Delaware State University sophomore forward Kia Abrams during Temple's 96-72 win on Nov. 10. Oliver had 18 points and three steals in Temple's win on Thursday against Wagner College at McGonigle Hall. | JAMIE COTTRELL / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Owls needed to win Thursday’s game, coach Tonya Cardoza said.

Though it is early in the season and Temple only played its third game, the Owls’ 70-36 victory against Wagner College at McGonigle Hall meant more than a notch in the win column.

Temple (2-1) held the Seahawks to just 36 points after giving up 84 and 72 in its previous two games.

“I thought we did a good job of coming out in the first quarter and definitely setting the tone, holding them to seven points,” Cardoza said. “That was really important for us to come out and try to play some defense.”

Temple held Wagner to seven points in both the first and second quarters while the Owls scored 21 and 18 points, respectively. Seahawks fifth-year senior forward Sierra Clark scored 11 of her team’s 14 first-half points.

Wagner shot 1-for-10 from 3-point range, and the team shot 5-for-22 from the field in the first half.

“We need to focus on the defensive side of making sure that we’re making them work for everything that they get,” Cardoza said. “I know we’re going to make shots, but there are going to be days where they don’t go in, and we have to make sure that we’re making it difficult for other teams.”

Six Owls combined to record 14 steals. Senior guard Tanaya Atkinson led with five, and freshman guard Desiree Oliver had three steals to go with her 18 points.

Partly because of Temple’s quick hands and aggressive play to rack up steals, Wagner turned over the ball 28 times to the Owls’ 11.

After making a season-high 23 turnovers on Monday against Rutgers University, Temple made a season low on Thursday and forced a season-high 28 turnovers by its opponent.

“I think if we’re getting stops, that means now we’re able to get out in transition where people probably can’t guard us as well,” Cardoza said.

Temple had 26 points off turnovers. While moving down the court, the Owls often used a few long passes to make their way to the hoop. The Owls ended the night with 20 assists.

Graduate guard Mykia Jones led Temple with five assists, while Oliver and freshman guard Emani Mayo each tallied four assists.

“We try to share the basketball so that everybody gets looks, everybody’s comfortable with shooting,” Cardoza said. “The last thing you want is for it to just be one person dominating the ball because that makes you easy to guard. I feel like we have a lot of guys that can make shots, but we’re all about sharing the basketball.”

Cardoza’s sharing tactic worked well for Temple. Eight Owls scored against Wagner. Six players scored five points or more. Thirty-two of Temple’s 70 points came from its bench players, who received minutes as Cardoza rotated athletes throughout the game.

The substitutions were fueled by Temple’s efforts on defense and the depth it has on the roster.

“I think it’s really important for us to have a defensive mentality,” Cardoza said. “I think what I’m going to do this year is just if you’re not giving that maximum effort on the defensive side, I’m sure that there’s going to be somebody, because we’re deep, that’s willing to go out there and do it.”

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