The last time the Owls played Tulane, they exited New Orleans in disappointment. Not just because they lost that game, but they also regretted the fact that they didn’t play as well as they knew they could.
Tuesday night’s game at McGonigle Hall was a different story
“We are a much better team than what we showed that game,” senior guard Tyonna Williams said of her team’s first contest against Tulane. “Coach felt that we didn’t play hard, we didn’t have a lot of passion. We just came into this game saying we’re going to switch that up.”
The difference in the game for Temple (13-14, 9-5 American Athletic Conference) in Tuesday night’s 69-58 win over Tulane was defense. The Green Wave’s 58-point output was 19 points less than the total it recorded in the previous contest.
Temple put defensive pressure on Tulane from the opening tip. The Owls had 12 steals in the first half and went on to force 21 turnovers in the game.
Sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald set a career high with six steals, rebounding from her defensive performance in the last game against the Green Wave.
“Last game I didn’t really play well on the defensive end,” Fitzgerald said. “I was just spinning around and stuff. Today, I was focused on getting stops and being aggressive on defense.”
Tulane forward Chinwe Duru felt the effects of Temple’s defensive improvements. She posted 23 points against the Owls in their last meeting. In Tuesday night’s contest, she managed nine points and failed to play an important role.
“I felt like when we were down there she made some shots early, and she just had a lot of confidence,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We weren’t defending the way that they were screening to get her the ball. Today, we didn’t allow them to get that so they went away from it.”
The Owls also did some damage on the offensive side of the ball, as they shot better than 47 percent from the field in the game.
Williams exploded in the first half for 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting. The senior said some advice from assistant coach Willnett Crockett prior to the start of the game helped her out.
“Before the game I got up some shots with [Crockett],” Williams said. “She just told me, ‘Don’t think about shooting. Just shoot when you’re open. Come out with a lot of confidence.’ And I think that’s what I did.”
The victory against Tulane marks one of Temple’s better defeats of the season, as The Green Wave fell to 19-7 overall on the season and 10-5 in conference play.
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.