Coming off their most disappointing loss of the season, the women’s basketball team failed to get back in the win column against Auburn, losing 71-49.
Despite another strong performance by senior center Victoria Macaulay, the Owls were once again plagued by turnovers. Macaulay scored 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting and gathered six rebounds, but the team committed 28 turnovers that resulted in 36 points for Auburn.
“The thing that has been a problem most of the year is turnovers, not giving ourselves an opportunity and allowing them to score transition buckets off of our turnovers,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.
Macaulay’s front court partner, redshirt-junior power forward Natasha Thames, returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous game due to a mild concussion. With Thames out of the lineup, the Owls lost to a Kent State squad that was winless at the time. On Sunday against Auburn, she finished with nine points and five rebounds in 38 minutes.
Thames was forced to sit out all of last season due to a nagging injury.
“[Thames] is still working herself back into basketball shape,” Cardoza said. “She missed a lot of time with her injury and with her concussion this past week so she barely really had any practice time.”
With projected starting point guard Monaye Merritt out for the season with an ACL tear, Thames’ bout with various injuries, and Macaulay’s ailing knees, Cardoza said she believes Temple has suffered from a lack of health and stability.
“We don’t have the time to have guys in and out,” Cardoza said. “We need production from everybody and we need the bodies on the floor during practice to try and get better, and we haven’t had that consistently.”
Thames‘ inability to practice was accentuated today by the absence of sophomore guard Rateska Brown, who didn’t make the trip to Auburn because of a violation of team conduct. Coming off the bench as Cardoza’s sixth man, Brown leads the team in three-point shooting. With Brown unavailable, the Owls struggled from three-point range in the loss to the Tigers, going just 4-for-21.
Freshman guard Meghan Roxas received her first career start in place of freshman guard Erica Covile. Covile was coming off a poor performance against Kent State, in which she went 0-for-4 from the field in 20 minutes. Against Auburn, she turned the ball over six times in 13 minutes while failing to score a point. Roxas, on the other hand, scored eight points and committed just one turnover in 24 minutes.
How Cardoza’s young back court shapes up still remains to be seen.
“It’s a lot of inexperience,” Cardoza said. “It really hasn’t been any change in that sense.”
Auburn was led by the back court duo of junior guard Tyrese Tanner and sophomore guard Hasina Muhammad. Tanner scored 18 points on 8-for-14 shoointg while Muhammad registered 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting. The Tigers shot 52% from the field as opposed to Temple’s 33%. They turned the ball over 22 times, but unlike the Owls, they were able to limit the damage in transition as they allowed just twelve points off of giveaways. Auburn improved to 8-2 with today’s win.
Temple (5-4) will continue its six-game road trip with a Big 5 affair against Villanova on Friday Dec. 21. The Wildcats are 8-1 and coming off a win over Princeton.
“We’re going to have a tough time trying to defense [Villanova]. We always have,” Cardoza said. “We can’t sit around and hope and worry about what has happened in the past. We have to face these guys.”
Tyler Sablich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TySablich.