The Owls got their first win of the season, 74-64, against Buffalo as four starters reached double-digit scoring in what junior Kristen McCarthy called “a must-win game.”
McCarthy had another tough outing, shooting six of 14 from the field, but still managed 18 points.
“I’ve been struggling and my coaches and teammates, even friends, everyone’s been trying to help me out giving me advice and everything,” McCarthy said.
Temple had a tough battle against a Buffalo team that features senior forward Kourtney Brown, who was averaging 28.5 points along with 11 rebounds in her first two games. Brown didn’t shoot well, going only five for 13, but still managed another double-double with 17 points and 18 rebounds while matching up against sophomore Victoria Macaulay most of the night.
“I had to force her to her weaker hand, which is her right, because I know she always wanted to go left,” Macaulay said.
“Putting her [McCauley] in the starting line-up, I thought she had a great game for us,” added coach Tonya Cardoza.
The Bulls kept the game close for much of the game, behind Brown’s solid performance and 19 points from junior guard Brittany Hedderson.
“The same thing happened last year when we were at their place,” Cardoza said. “They gave us a hard-fought game.”
The Owls were able to hold off the pressure as four starters scored at least ten points, including a game high 20 by junior Shey Peddy. Senior Qwedia Wallace and Macaulay also posted 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Things got tight half-way through the second half, as the Bulls managed to gain some momentum and take the lead because of several Temple fouls. The Owls were in foul trouble within at the mid-way point of the second half, giving Buffalo a chance to take the lead with free throws.
“To be honest that’s what we’ve been doing the last few games is committing a lot of fouls,” Cardoza said. “They’re ticky-tack fouls, but they’re still fouls. We just have to do a better job of not putting teams on the free-throw line. That’s how we lost our [first] two games, by putting teams on the free-throw line.”
Fortunately for the Owls, the Bulls were equally prone to mistakes, allowing 34 free-throw attempts. The teams combined for 49 personal fouls on the night, leading to 12 easy points for Buffalo and 26 for the Owls. Peddy led the Owls, going ten for ten from the line, and Brown led the Bulls going seven for ten.
The momentum shifted back to the Owls midway through the second half when the team decided to play a full court press on the Bulls, which managed to stall their offense and provide McCarthy and company to recapture the lead. Cardoza made the switch to give Buffalo less time to find open shots.
“I thought that we were giving them too much time to go down there and find something good,” Cardoza said.
Costly Bulls turnovers at the end of the game also helped the Owls take the lead for good, as they made the most of those opportunities with 18 points off turnovers during the game.
“They outworked us for most of the game,” Cardoza said. “But I think we might just have a little bit more talent and we were able to have a couple of stretches where we were able to get some steals and get some easy buckets.”
Despite the fouls and mistakes, at the end of the night the team was just glad to come away with a victory to improve to 1-2 on the season.
“It feels good to get a win,” McCarthy said. “We thought we could have played a heck of a lot better, but just to get the win, that’s the most important thing.”
The Owls next game is in McGonigle Hall on Nov. 23 against Northern Illinois. Tip-off is 7 p.m.
Jake Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.