CINCINNATI – Winter break has not been kind for the women’s basketball team. The Owls (10-5 overall, 0-1 Atlantic Ten Conference) dropped an 82-69 decision to No. 16 Xavier Sunday to kick off A-10 play. They are currently in a 1-4 slump during their past five games, the last three of which have been played against Top 25 opponents. Temple lost earlier during break to No. 8 Duke and No. 12 Florida State.
“You would hope that you could knock one of these teams off. I thought we put ourselves in position to play them,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Obviously, these guys are good. They knocked down some shots from the perimeter, and we couldn’t stop them inside, so we dug ourselves a deep hole, but in the second half, our guys came out and competed and worked really hard, but it was just too big a hole to dig ourselves out.”
Temple came into the game undermanned with only eight active players. Senior guard LaKeisha Eaddy did not travel with the team after sustaining a concussion and broken nose in practice this past Friday.
As a result, Cardoza had to make some changes to the starting lineup. Sophomore guard B.J. Williams and freshman center Victoria Macaulay cracked the starting five. During the past three games, Macaulay has been somewhat of a bright spot, averaging 7.7 points per game.
Temple had a brutal first half. Xavier capitalized on turnovers and made a 24-8 run during the last eight minutes to take a 46-28 lead at halftime. The Owls committed 18 turnovers and struggled to score in the paint throughout the course of the game.
“Today wasn’t so much turnovers. It was just we gave up wide-open 3’s and weren’t paying attention in transition, and then we couldn’t stop them inside,” Cardoza said. “Their two post players were so much bigger and stronger that we had a difficult matchup.”
Sophomore guard Kristen McCarthy led the team with 28 points and went 5-for-6 from 3-point range. She was one of the main reasons Xavier won by only 13 points.
“She works really hard. She’s a competitor. She doesn’t like to lose,” Cardoza said. “I said to her she had a great offensive game, but she made a lot of crucial mistakes defensively. It can’t be just one end of the floor. She has to be a better defender in knowing what her assignments are and communicating.
“I thought she had a hell of a game,” Cardoza added. “I wouldn’t trade her for anybody.”
Junior guard Shaqwedia Wallace scored 16 points, and Williams finished with 12 points.
Xavier was led by redshirt junior Amber Harris, who had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds.
“She’s 6-feet-5-inches, and she plays the four position, and she’s a difficult match because she can shoot the ball from about 15, 17 feet. She can post you up. She can handle the ball, so she’s a difficult matchup for just about anybody,” Cardoza said.
Sophomore guard Tyeasha Moss also had 20 points for the Musketeers.
The Owls head home and look to rebound against A-10 opponents Fordham Jan. 13 and Saint Joseph’s Jan. 16, which is part of a women’s and men’s doubleheader at the Liacouras Center.
“This is a totally different season for us. We’re starting A-10’s, so all the things that happen before that don’t really matter,” Cardoza said. “What happens from here on out is the important thing, and that’s trying to win every single game [and] get ourselves in position to win the A-10 Championship.”
Brian Dzenis can be reached at email@example.com.