Lack of ‘toughness’ dooms Owls in loss to UD

Guards Courtni Green and Erika Brown combined for 42 points en route to sinking the Owls, 69-58, at the Liacouras Center.

As freshman guard Tanaya Atkinson looked over the box score after the Owls’ 69-58 defeat to the University of Delaware, she could only muster up one thought.

“This is bad,” she said to herself.

Atkinson was referring to the two players she said the Owls had to worry about entering the contest – guards Courtni Green and Erika Brown.

The duo, which came in as Delaware’s two leading scorers, combined for 42 points. After being held to seven points each in the first half, the two exploded in the second half for 35 combined points.

“I don’t think we helped ourselves any … we weren’t being aggressive … again I felt like we were out to lunch on the defensive end because nothing that they did surprised us,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.

Despite the strong effort from the pair, Cardoza believes her young team mentally checked out of the game after falling behind early in the second half.

“It got to the point that we were OK with losing … and that is disappointing as a coach, but we didn’t help ourselves any,” Cardoza said.

The two guards were the driving force behind Delware’s second-half resurgence. The Blue Hens started the second half on a 15-7 run, and Temple never recovered.

“The second half to start, they were knocking down shots and we got defeated right then in the first minute and a half and it’s like we couldn’t recover,” Cardoza said.

After a strong first half where the Owls forced 13 turnovers and held Delaware to under 30 percent shooting, the Owls came away with a 3-point halftime lead, 28-25.

The Owls, who trailed for 1 minute, 54 second in the first half, left opportunities on the floor, Cardoza said. Despite forcing double-digit turnovers and hitting double-digit free throws, Cardoza believed her team didn’t capitalize on all of Delaware’s mistakes.

“There were opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them … guys were second guessing themselves.”

This lack of effort in the second half is what Cardoza believed doomed her team. The Owls were never able to trim the lead to less than eight after the initial Delaware surge and as much energy as there was in the first half, there was little in the second half.

“We didn’t play with passion in the second half,” Cardoza said. “We just came out of the locker room and showed up just to play. Delaware wanted it and took it right to us.”

The Owls were jumped on in the beginning of the second half, a point after which Cardoza said she felt her team didn’t have the toughness needed to win.

“As soon as they punched us then we quit … we just allowed them to bully us,” she said.

As much as the Owls struggled defensively in the second half, the offense was just as stagnant. The Owls shot 33 percent from the field in the second half and 25 percent from three point range. The Owls only  had two players in double figures, sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerland and freshman guard Alliya Butts, who scored 15 and 10, respectively.

“We lacked the effort and the toughness that you need to win games like this,” Cardoza said.

Michael Guise can be reached at or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.

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