In Temple’s final exhibition victory against Bloomfield College 65-42, the Bears gave the Owls a lot to contemplate defensively before their season opener against the University of Florida, Nov. 13.
As Temple stepped onto court against the Bears, it was apparent there were still rebounding struggles that carried from last season. After being outrebounded 20-14 in the first half, the Owls entered halftime with a 26-23 lead after Bloomfield’s Tianna Smith connected on a 3-point shot with 2.7 seconds left.
“I don’t think we were really happy with our first half,” junior center Safiya Martin said. “Defensive wise, we were kind of lackadaisical and weren’t paying attention to details. While we were in the locker room, we realized the team we wanted to be.”
As a team, the Owls shot 36 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3-point range in the first quarter, making four of their 15 attempts from behind the arc.
In the second quarter, the Owls knocked down five of their 11 field goals, including one 3-pointer.
“It was good for us to see our defense and see the mistakes that we made and how we can improve,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I felt like in the first half we were just running plays but not paying attention to what we were trying to get out of it.”
After being tied at 32 with 6:24 left in the third quarter, the Owls went on a 17-0 run that lasted nearly 10 minutes until 7:24 remaining in the fourth quarter when Bloomfield’s Ilsya Lewis scored on an offensive rebound.
The Owls also jumped ahead in the rebounding category with 10 second half offensive rebounds, giving them a 33-28 overall edge by the end of the game.
Sophomore forward Donnaizha Fountain was also able to score her first points as an Owl in the first half with a 3-point shot. The 6-foot transfer also grabbed two rebounds in 10 minutes of play.
“This is her first time really playing with us because she really didn’t play the first scrimmage [Against American],” Cardoza said. “I felt like she brought the energy level that we definitely need.”
With 14 players on the roster this season, Cardoza expects a lot of players to be weapons on the bench. But her decision to play nine players was due to practicing habits.
“We could have easily put some other people in,” Cardoza said. “I felt like for our guys who played a lot last year, things they were doing were a little frustrating, because they weren’t really paying attention.”
One of the returning starters Cardoza wasn’t pleased with was sophomore guard Alliya Butts, who picked up her third foul in the middle of the third quarter, forcing her to be benched until the final minutes of the game.
“She had a lot of hand check fouls that were not necessary,” Cardoza said. “We can’t afford to have her picking up fouls when your guys aren’t really in scoring positions.”
Even though the Bears were a Division II team, junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald didn’t want to overlook the matchup, since they wanted to see how they would perform offensively.
“Just like we saw downstairs, they gave us a run for our money in the beginning,” Fitzgerald said. “We just have to do what we have to on our end and hopefully it prepares us for our games.”
Mark McCormick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by Twitter @Markjmccormick.