After coach Tonya Cardoza made a statement by benching senior center Victoria Macaulay due to a lackluster effort, Macaulay heard the message loud and clear.
Macaulay and the Owls (8-10, 1-2) bounced back from a 20-point loss to Duquesne, in which Macaulay played only six minutes, to beat the University of Pennsylvania 59-51 tonight at the Palestra. Macaulay led Temple with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting and also pulled in nine rebounds. She said Cardoza’s message “opened her eyes” and that she now understands what she has to do from here on out as a leader and a top performer.
The Quakers (7-8) got out to a quick 6-0 lead following the tip-off before sophomore point guard Tyonna Williams ripped off seven straight points for the Owls. Shortly after, Macaulay scored eight consecutive points for Temple. Freshman guard May Dayan hit a three-pointer as time expired in the first half, capping off a 25-4 run for the Owls heading into the break. The score was 32-14 at halftime in favor of Cardoza’s squad, which seemed to be responding nicely to the debacle against Duquesne.
However, leading by 24 points in the middle of the second half, Temple began to falter like they have for much of the season. Penn’s full-court pressure led the Owls to make some sloppy decisions with the basketball, and the Quakers began putting some points on the board. Cardoza said the way the Owls played at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half is the team they need to play like on a more consistent basis.
“The team you saw in the last ten minutes, that’s the team that’s been showing up way too often,” Cardoza said. “We have to try and get rid of that team and make sure we’re doing the things that make us look like the team from the first 30 minutes.”
Temple’s halftime cushion proved to be enough as it withstood a late 18-4 run by Penn to capture its second Big 5 win of the season.
The Owls will be without freshman forward Erica Covile for at least the immediate future after she injured her knee in practice in the week leading up to the Duquesne game. Temple has not yet ruled her out for the remainder of the season. Cardoza said “knock on wood,” that she hopes to have her available at some point before season’s end, but that there’s no need to rush her back into action.
In Covile’s absence, freshman forward Sally Kabengano played 37 minutes and scored ten points on 5-of-9 shooting. She and freshman forward Jackie Jackson will consume most of the minutes vacated by Covile. Jackson played 28 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing eight rebounds. Cardoza credits Jackson for her physicality, as it seems she currently prefers Jackson to the team’s starting power forward, redshirt-junior Natasha Thames, who played just eleven minutes tonight after playing 19 against Duquesne.
Temple is slated for another Big 5 match-up on Sunday Jan. 27 against Atlantic 10 Conference rival La Salle, at 2 p.m. in McGonigle Hall.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com.