Mia Davis demands a lot of attention from opposing defenses.
“It makes it a little more tough for me,” said Davis, a senior forward on Temple University’s women’s basketball team. “They are packing it on the inside, and we need to score more outside.”
It’s no surprise Davis is a magnet for double and triple teams under the rim. The Baltimore, Maryland native is averaging 18.9 points per game and has had four games in which she scored 20 or more this season, including a 34-point effort against Florida Gulf Coast in December 2020.
With defenses heavily focused on Davis, the Owls (5-5, 5-2 The American Athletic Conference) need its young guards to step up and play well on the perimeter to have an efficient offense. Improved play on the outside will free up the paint for Davis and make it more difficult for opposing defenses to guard Temple’s offense.
While Davis is making 46 percent of her field goal attempts and 35 percent of her 3-point attempts, just two of Davis’ teammates — junior forward Alexa Williamson and graduate guard Jada Graves — are making at least 40 percent of their field goal attempts, and only freshman guard Jasha Clinton makes at least 30 percent of her shots from beyond the arc.
A lack of ball movement for the Owls outside of their starters led to an often-stagnant offense this season. Sophomore guard Asonah Alexander and Clinton have combined for 94 assists, while the rest of the team has just 41 assists in total.
“We don’t have that leader at the guard position that can grab everybody and huddle them together and keep everybody composed,” Cardoza said. “We’re so young that the ball is just going all over the place.”
Clinton is stepping up for the Owls this season, ranking fourth on the team in average minutes played. She’s one of four players to start in all 10 games this season.
Ranking second on the team with 13 points per game, Clinton’s scored at least 20 points in two of Temple’s last three games, including a 23-point performance against Cincinnati. Her three highest scoring games came in AAC play, helping Temple to a 5-2 record in conference play.
While Clinton is starting to become an aggressive scorer, Alexander is a skilled playmaker whose 6.5 assists per game ranks eighth in the nation.
In the Owls’ 65-55 win against Wichita State last Saturday, Alexander scored 12 points and shot the ball 11 times — both season highs.
“In the locker room, I applauded her,” Cardoza said. “For her to be aggressive shooting the ball from deep, putting the ball on the floor and getting to the free throw line, it says a lot.”
For the Owls to be successful, Alexander needs to continue to look for her shot, which opens up the floor for her teammates.
Although she shot just one-of-six from 3-point range against Wichita State and has only made 8.8 percent of her shots from 3-point range this season, the more Alexander shot, the more attention she attracted from the defense, who had to step up to guard her.
Alexander is averaging just 4.9 points per game this season, which ranks fifth on the team.
“We need other guys like [Alexander] to step up and be that offensive threat,” Cardoza said. “Because again, the way that they defended Mia was super aggressive.”
Another player the Owls are reliant on is senior guard Emani Mayo, who has played at least 35 minutes in all but two contests. Among Owls consistently in the rotation, Mayo has the fourth-most assists and the fewest turnovers.
Temple currently trails #14 South Florida (10-1, 7-0 The American) and Central Florida (8-2, 6-1 The American) in the AAC standings.
The Owls’ next contest is on the road against #14 South Florida on Jan. 27 at 4 p.m. in Tampa, Florida.