As Taylor Robinson ascended off the floor and won the opening tip, the Owls secured their first possession of the game.
As the seconds passed, the ball found its way to the hands of Erica Covile and 13 seconds into the game, the Owls committed their first turnover.
The play would be an omen for the Owls, as they turned the ball over 21 times in an 88-55 loss to No. 17 Rutgers Wednesday night at McGonigle Hall.
Coming into the game, Rutgers was forcing 20 turnovers per game, and the Scarlet Knights thrived off Temple’s poor ball control. They had 27 points off Temple turnovers, and many of the Owls’ turnovers led to easy buckets for the Scarlet Knights, who had 18 made layups in the game.
Cardoza said her team’s effort just never materialized.
“I just feel like our guys talked a good game. We talked about showing up, but we didn’t,” Cardoza said.
For the game, Rutgers shot 56 percent from the floor and had four players in double figures, including Philadelphia native Kahleah Cooper, who scored a game-high 20 points.
“They got really good players … they have been playing together and that shows,” Cardoza said.
Rutgers also totaled 13 steals, which lead to numerous transitions layups. For Cardoza, the answer was simple – Temple was simply outclassed.
“We went up against a team that outmatched [us] at every single position,” Cardoza said.
The Owls were able to keep it close in the beginning because of senior guard Tyonna Williams’ hot shooting, but then Rutgers adjusted. The Scarlet Knights’ constant switching from a 2-3 zone to man-to-man defense gave the Owls fits.
They packed the paint and forced Temple to take contested outside shots. The Owls shot 8 for 24 from 3-point range for the game.
“It’s hard for us to score in the paint … we can’t put the ball on the floor and go by them because they are all standing in the lane,” Cardoza said.
Scoring in the paint has been a problem for the Owls all season. Cardoza tried to remedy the problem by inserting sophomore Robinson in the starting lineup. In her 20 minutes of play, Robinson scored seven points and grabbed four rebounds, while sophomore center Safiya Martin added eight points off the bench.
“Hopefully this is a good start for Taylor, she hasn’t played these kind of minutes and been a scoring threat for us,” Cardoza said. “Hopefully this is a boost of confidence for her.”
The Owls have now lost five or their last six games and host Atlantic Costal Conference foe Florida State University on Dec. 14. For Williams, the senior leader, the team’s struggles are nothing she hasn’t seen before. She said she will continue to lead through the tough times.
“Staying positive with them,” Williams said of her mindset. “I’ve been through this before … not staying in the hole, getting out of it.”
Michael Guise can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.