Three freshmen guards saw playing time in the Owls’ first win of the year.
The women’s basketball team expects its freshmen to step into the rotation and produce right away this season.
The Owls controlled several aspects of their season opener against Miami (Ohio) on Friday, winning 70-36, which allowed coach Tonya Cardoza to see how the freshmen players would react in their first game.
Freshmen guards Rateska Brown, Monaye Merritt and Tyonna Williams saw action in the blowout win for the Owls. They combined for a total of 14 points and three rebounds in 37 minutes.
“Obviously these three [freshmen], they’re perimeter guys and they have a lot of experience,” Cardoza said. “But we’re going to need a lot of contributions from those guys.”
Seven minutes after the start of the first half, Williams came off the bench for senior guard Shey Peddy, who had two personal fouls.
“[The foul trouble] frustrated me a lot, especially the first [foul] because I knew I had one and not to reach,” Peddy said. “On the other hand it put the freshman [Williams] in an uncomfortable position and I didn’t know how she was going to react, but she came through and I’m glad she played well.”
The native of Fort Washington, Md. scored nine points and added two rebounds, an assist, and a steal in her collegiate debut. Williams averaged 18 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists last year as a senior at Riverdale Baptist High School (Upper Marlboro, Md.), a team that ranked No. 10 in ESPN’s FAB 50 national rankings with a 30-6 record.
“[Williams] is going to be the first guard off the bench,” Cardoza said. “She’s come from a program that is college-like, the way that they prepare and practice, she’s more advanced than the other guys.”
“[Williams] just plays with so much passion and emotion, she picks things up quickly no matter what we throw at her,” Cardoza added. “She’s eager to learn and wants to be out there.”
In the Owls’ first game of the year, Cardoza said that she knew the team would have “jitters,” but she was impressed with the rookies’ performance on the court, especially with Brown.
“Defensively in practice [Brown] struggled a little bit,” Cardoza said. “[Friday] she was out there trying to pay attention and pressure the ball.”
Brown, a native of Alvin, S.C., played four minutes in the second half and took advantage of the opportunity by sinking both of her two free throw attempts as well as a three-point field goal from the top of the circle with less than a minute remaining in the game.
“[Brown] was able to knock down shots,” Cardoza said. “The thing with [Brown] is she can shoot the ball, so we need for her to be out on the floor. So as long as she’s getting better defensively, she’s going to help us out a lot.”
In addition, Merritt saw playing time in the second half and helped lead the offense at point guard. In seven minutes of action, the lone Philadelphia native of Friends’ Central High School on the Owls’ roster, went 0-3 from the field and recorded a rebound, an assist and a steal.
“[Merritt] is going to be the backup point guard,” Cardoza said. “Whenever [Peddy] is not playing, she’s someone that can play the point guard role for us.”
The trio of freshmen guards will not only be asked to come into the game and play minutes in reserve for the lineup’s starting five, but they will be expected to take shots and know the team’s defensive schemes.
“We’re going to need [the freshmen] to play,” Cardoza said. “Sometimes it’s tough because we’re asking to do a lot of different things to try to slow down the other team and as long as they can pick it up, which I’m sure they will, they’ll definitely help us out.”
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