At the end of the first half, the women’s basketball team had 34 points.
Two players, junior guard LaKeisha Eaddy and freshman guard Kristen McCarthy, had 26 of them.
Thanks to double-digit scoring efforts in the second half by senior forward Shenita Landry and sophomore guard Shaqwedia Wallace, though, the Owls defeated Saint Louis 76-56. Temple now stands at 15-7 overall and 6-2 in the Atlantic Ten Conference, good for a three-way tie for third place. The Billikens fell to 10-13 and 4-4.
“The stretch that we have coming up is really, really tough, but the type of basketball that we’re playing right now, we’re probably prepared for that,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We probably want it now because everybody’s going to be paying attention to that.”
McCarthy tied her career-high with 19 points, marking the first time she’d scored in double-digits since Jan. 28 at Central Michigan, when she had 11.
“I’ve been working with coach Veney in practice and before practice on my shot,” McCarthy said. “And Coach is giving me a lot of minutes, and my teammates are finding me.”
“After watching film, we saw that we should be able to attack them with the dribble and get to the basket or the free-throw line. I don’t really think the people out there guarding Kris could guard her putting the ball on the floor,” Cardoza said. “She was just being aggressive, and when she saw a lane, she put the ball on the floor and took it. And that’s what we want her to do more of rather than settling for a jump shot.”
Temple needed that kind of effort from the freshman, as Wallace and senior forward Shanea Cotton both sat on the bench in the first half with foul trouble.
Even Eaddy, who helped the Owls get off to a 10-2 run to start the game, picked up two quick fouls. Cardoza couldn’t pull her point guard, though, as Eaddy’s backup, junior guard Ranecia Fields, got called for two fouls of her own.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game. They’re a really physical team,” Cardoza said. “I just tried to make sure that our guys are being smart and not to the point where it’s getting dirty. Just making sure the officials stayed on top of it. Sometimes, when you’re physical like that, other teams start to retaliate, and we just didn’t want it to get ugly.”
That physicality was evident in the Owls’ handling of Billikens junior guard Theresa Lisch. Lisch, who leads the A-10 in scoring with an average of 20.9 points per game, scored only 15 points. Seven of them came from the foul line.
“She’s averaging about 24 points in the conference, and obviously, if you’re going to let her get 24 points, they have a great chance of winning,” Cardoza said. “So, we decided to get the ball out of her hands and make somebody else score if they were going to beat us. Every single person out on the floor did a great job of guarding her. It wasn’t one person’s responsibility, it was all five guys out there to make sure that she gave the ball up. We were trying to limit her to even get shots. That was the game plan.”
The Owls travel to Massachusetts for a Wednesday morning game. They will look to extend their four-game winning streak.
“At home, we’ve been taking care of business,” Cardoza said. “We just have to do a better job on the road. This league is tough. Watching the scores online, every single game is a close game.”
Game Notes: Temple was one of the last nine teams out in a mock bracket drafted by media and coaches on Feb. 5 and 6 at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis…The loss by Saint Louis was its worst since losing to Oklahoma 87-61 back on Dec. 30…Saint Louis sophomore forward Lauren Woods and Cotton picked up double technicals at the seven-minute mark of the second half. Words were exchanged, though nobody would say what exactly was said. Cotton had just re-entered the game after spending six minutes on the bench following a tumble to the court that ended with her banging her head on the floor.
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at email@example.com.