Sophomore point guard Tyonna Williams came out against Atlantic 10 Conference rival Richmond determined to erase the memory of her poor performance against La Salle on Sunday Jan. 27
“[The La Salle game] is kind of still in my head,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m gonna take that game throughout the rest of the season because I never want to look like that again.”
In the blowout loss to the Explorers, Williams committed nine turnovers in 15 minutes of playing time, failing to score a point or record an assist. Temple (9-11, 2-3) benefited by her bounce-back performance tonight against the Spiders (12-10, 2-4), as she scored 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting while dishing out six assists, grabbing six rebounds and turning it over three times in route to a 61-48 Temple win.
“I know it was important for me to come out with a lot of confidence and build my teammates up,” Williams said. “I wanted to let them know that I’m still the same Tyonna that I’ve been all year.”
The Owls were backed by a balanced scoring attack in which four players finished in double-figures. Temple was also impeccable from the free throw line, going 17-for-17 on the night.
In the first half, the Owls looked like a completely different team than the one that played against La Salle just last Sunday. They shot the ball better, played stronger defense and forced three more turnovers than they committed. They shot 41 percent from the floor and led 29-18 at the break.
However, among all the things that her team did right in the first half, it was the Owls’ intensity that pleased coach Tonya Cardoza the most.
“After watching [the La Salle game], there were things that were lacking that had nothing to do with skill set,” Cardoza said. “To focus on certain things that have nothing to do with being able to make a shot or play defense, I felt like we were committed to those things and that’s why we looked like a better team [against Richmond].”
Temple kept up its intensity following halftime, springing out to an 11-2 run and putting Richmond in a tough hole to climb out of. A three-pointer by sophomore guard Rateska Brown opened up the second half scoring, followed by two quick buckets by redshirt-junior forward Natasha Thames. The Owls held Richmond to 24 percent shooting from the floor following the break.
Overall, the Owls outshot Richmond 38 percent compared to 26 percent. Temple forced 21 Richmond turnovers while committing 17, after coughing it up 29 times less than a week ago against the Explorers.
“I feel like that was a well-needed game,” Cardoza said. “Playing a team like Richmond who is really good offensively, you have to be really committed on the defensive end. I think we set the tone early by limiting them to 18 points in the first half and I felt like our guys did a really good job of sticking to the game plan.”
Aside from Williams’ solid night, senior center Victoria Macaulay came one rebound shy from her ninth double-double of the season, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting and nine boards. Brown chipped in 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three-point range. Freshman forward Sally Kabengano, who Cardoza likes for defensive purposes, had 12 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting.
“We had a good team building session,” Kabengano said. “We came close as a team. It gave me confidence. I wanted to play well today.”
The Owls will continue A-10 play on Sunday Feb. 3 on the road against Massachusetts, looking to build off of a much needed victory over Richmond.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich