Within three points with 1 minute, 29 seconds to go in the game, the Owls dropped back on defense needing a stop. After a 3-point shot from the Seminoles was off target, it looked like Temple was going to have a chance to tie it up on the other end.
However, just like it happened 17 other times in the game, the Owls were unable to secure the rebound and a put-back by the Seminoles, stretching their lead to five.
Temple got it back to a one possession game several more times, but the missed opportunity would prove costly as the Owls fell, 66-62, to visiting Florida State.
Owls’ forward Safiya Martin, who started eight of the team’s first nine games and averaged 27.8 minutes in those contests, suffered a lower body injury in practice earlier in the week and was unable to play in the game.
With Martin sidelined, coach Tonya Cardoza had to go with a small lineup – several times she played with five guards – against a sizable Seminoles team.
For moments in the game, the smaller Owls shined forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets, but ultimately the key to Temple’s loss to Florida State was the Owls’ inability to secure rebounds on the defensive end.
The Owls gave up 18 offensive rebounds to the Seminoles, often times resulting in easy buckets for the visiting team.
“Unlike the last couple of games I felt like our guys really competed and played with some toughness and passion,” Cardoza said. “But we lost the game because they got too many offensive rebounds.”
Sophomore Taylor Robinson earned her second consecutive start at center for the Owls. In Martin’s absence, she filled in well, scoring six points including two big baskets down the stretch.
Junior Erica Covile stepped up and kept the Owls close throughout the game. The 6-foot-1 inch combo guard/forward netted a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“My teammates were feeding me the ball and I just knew that previous games I haven’t been as aggressive as I know I can be,” Covile said. “Today I came out here with aggressiveness on offense and defense.”
Cardoza added that this is something to look for in Covile, who came in averaging 7.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, as the Owls can continue their season.
“Erica’s turned over a new leaf,” Cardoza said. “So, what you saw today is what Erica wants to be every single day.”
Freshman Tanaya Atkinson, another one of Temple’s players who can play both inside and outside, used a balanced attack to get her team-high 16 points. She hit a few outside shots, but also was relentless with her drives to the basket.
The young player said she has learned a lot from senior Tyonna Williams early in her career.
“She’s our senior, she’s our leader, so of course I look up to her and what she does and how she leads the team,” Atkinson said of Williams. “Of course I follow right behind her because she does a good job leading this team.”
The Owls’ defense held a Florida State team averaging more than 80 points per game entering the contest to 66, including just 28 points in the first half. The team’s defense secured 11 steals and forced 19 total turnovers.
The Owls’ ability to defend kept Florida State from ever pulling away and making it a double-digit game. The largest Seminoles lead was nine points. The defensive effort is something that has been lacking throughout the season.
“We’re not about moral victories because that’s not what we do here, but I know that our guys really played differently today,” Cardoza said.
“[Florida State is] a really, really good team and if we did something as simple as making sure that we push back and box out, the game probably is something completely different,” Cardoza added.
Martin’s injury is not thought to be very serious. She is day-to-day … Sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald responded from a zero point performance against Rutgers with 11 points … Despite making 50 percent of their shots in the second half, the Owls were still held below 40 percent shooting in the game.