Temple University women’s basketball (3-1) needed timely shooting to defeat Xavier University (1-1) on Thursday. The Owls beat the Musketeers 78-65.
Redshirt-sophomore guard Ashley Jones led the way with 23 points on 9-15 shooting, 4-10 coming from behind the arc. Junior forward Mia Davis struggled from the field, but improved later in the game and finished with 18 points, going 7-16 from the field.
The Owls jumped out to an early lead, but the offense went stagnant towards the end of the first quarter, shooting just 26.3 percent from the field in the frame.
The Owls had a slightly better second quarter but still left Xavier hanging around.
“I felt, especially in the first half, we had a lot of easy shots that were very makeable,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We were just trying to do it too fast, hurry up and win too fast.”
Jones buoyed the Owls’ offense in the first half with 11 points.
“I think my teammates helped me just by communicating,” Jones said. “When we huddled together, we would talk about what we need to do better and I think that helped get the momentum going.”
Jones’ skills with the ball have been very important to the Owls’ offensive success so far this season.
“She’s the point guard, the ball is always in her hands,” Davis said. “So it’s very important to have her locked in and focused.”
The teams exchanged leads until the Owls went up 58-56 off a three-point shot from freshman guard Rayniah Walker with five minutes and 29 seconds remaining.
The next two times down the floor Jones and sophomore guard Marissa Mackins hit threes of their own, sparking a 17-0 run.
Walker’s pair of threes, along with a timely block with three minutes and 32 seconds remaining, was the spark the Owls needed down the stretch, Davis said.
“[Walker] came off the bench and hit threes, so I think that got everyone going and excited,” Davis said.
Cardoza made the adjustment of going small in the fourth quarter as she put Walker on the floor as a forward, a position she hadn’t played before. She trusted Walker to energize the defense, Cardoza said.
Next, the Owls will host Connecticut (2-0) at the Liacouras Center on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. which ranks fourth in the Associated Press poll.
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