Following the team’s 65-42 victory Nov. 7 against Bloomfield College, coach Tonya Cardoza was thinking about practice.
Nine of the Owls’ 14 players saw action in the exhibition game and Cardoza said it was because of the team’s habits in the practice gym on the 3rd floor of McGonigle Hall.
“I think those guys didn’t enjoy sitting on the bench,” Cardoza said. “When practice came around this past week the intensity level of our entire team definitely picked up.”
In the team’s 97-91 victory Friday against the University of Florida, 11 players received playing time, and seven totaled 10 or more minutes.
“You saw a lot more people playing,” Cardoza said. “We needed those guys to come in and play minutes for us.”
Sophomore guard Khadijah Berger, who did not play in the team’s exhibition, saw 23 minutes of playing time filling in for sophomore guard Alliya Butts, who suffered from cramps in the third quarter.
“With [Berger’s] work ethic in practice, she was rewarded with playing time,” Cardoza said. “She gave us good minutes.”
The team’s depth also played a key role when junior center Safiya Martin picked up two fouls in the first quarter.
She was replaced by forward Monasia Bolduc, a transfer from Walters State Community College, and graduate center Ugo Nwaigwe, from Wagner College, who combined for 19 minutes, four points and three rebounds.
“If Safiya doesn’t get in foul trouble, Ugo probably doesn’t play,” Cardoza said. “And it’s just because it’s a security blanket with Safiya. I know she’s going to grab every rebound. Her getting in foul trouble made me have to go to the bench, and I feel they handled themselves well.”
The squad’s other two transfers—sophomores Ruth Sherrill and Donnaizha Fountain—combined for 10 minutes after combining for 39 minutes, seven rebounds and five points against Bloomfield College.
“Me and Donnaizha are the same type of player, so I know if she is there, she can back me up,” sophomore guard Tanaya Atkinson said. “So, last year it was like if I wasn’t doing my job and having a bad game, I feel bad for my teammates, but I now I can just pat her on the back.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video shot by David Petrozziello and edited by Sean Brown.