Sophomore point guard Tyonna Williams called her performance “embarrassing,” but she might as well have been talking about the whole team.
The Owls lost to Atlantic 10 Conference and Big 5 rival La Salle in blowout fashion, 71-55. Williams committed nine turnovers in just 15 minutes of play, failing to score a point or dish out an assist.
“I just didn’t play well,” Williams said. “There was no reason, I just didn’t play well.”
Temple (8-11, 1-3) turned the ball over 19 times in the first half alone, finishing with a total of 27. La Salle (6-13, 2-2), on the other hand, committed 11 turnovers. The Owls shot 35 percent from the field on the afternoon compared to 44 percent for the Explorers. Despite playing sloppily in the first half, Temple only trailed 33-26 heading into the break.
Backed by a 29-point performance by Shanel Harrison and a 21-point performance by Ebonee Jones, La Salle pulled away from Temple in second half.
Although she was certainly not pleased with her team’s performance, coach Tonya Cardoza didn’t shy away from giving La Salle the credit it deserved.
“[La Salle] saw that we weren’t ready to play, and they took advantage of that,” Cardoza said. “We started the game by turning the ball over and I think that just fed into them, and they started to get a lot of confidence. They just ran with that.”
La Salle senior guard Brittany Wilson, who entered the afternoon averaging 18 points per game, was held to just eight points with freshman forward Sally Kabengano covering her for the majority of the game. However, while the Owls held Wilson in check, it was Harrison who benefited from poor defense.
“We didn’t guard [Harrison],” Cardoza said. “She was hungry, and she wanted to go out and kick our butts. We gave her confidence, we gave her wide open shots.”
Senior center Victoria Macaulay recorded her eighth double-double of the season in Temple’s losing effort, scoring 19 points on 6-of-21 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds. Despite an impressive overall season, it hasn’t come easy for Macaulay. She’s struggled with her shot at times, and was benched after playing only six minutes against Duquesne on Jan. 20 for failing to do her job as a veteran leader.
“I just took it upon myself to try and get better at the little things [after getting benched],” Macaulay said. “I’m just trying to work hard, just trying to be the best I can be.”
The loss to La Salle marks the third straight game in which freshman Jackie Jackson has seen more playing time than redshirt-junior forward Natasha Thames, who is typically Cardoza’s go-to power forward. Cardoza has been pleased with Jackson’s physicality and willingness to play hard. She played 28 minutes against the Explorers, scoring seven points and bringing in five rebounds. Another freshman, guard Meghan Roxas, played 27 minutes and scored a career-high 11 points.
Cardoza found a little bit of solace in knowing a few of her freshmen worked hard and played well down the stretch.
“We put [the freshmen] in situations that they’re probably not used to,” Cardoza said. “They took advantage of their opportunities, that’s the one good thing I can take from this, that I know I have those guys that are gonna compete no matter what the situation is.”
With Jackson, Roxas, Kabengano and freshman guard May Dayan all seeing heavy minutes in the second half, Cardoza said she never considered putting Williams back in following her disastrous first half.
“I felt like [Williams] didn’t show up,” Cardoza said. “Those guys that were out there were hustling to make things happen, and it would have been a discredit to them [to sub Williams back in].”
Aside from falling to 8-11 overall and 1-3 in A-10 play, Temple also dropped to 1-3 in Big 5 play. The Owls will look to right the ship on Thursday Jan. 31 against Richmond.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich.