Owls have liftoff

Defense and rebounding.

They’re like defense and pitching in baseball.

They’ll always keep the team in the game.

And that was the case for the women’s basketball team tonight, as it beat Toledo 73-46.

“We just wanted to be aggressive [on defense],” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We weren’t happy with how we performed in the Florida State game and letting somebody else come into our building and dictate how we play.”

The Owls (5-3) used that aggressiveness, forcing 18 Toledo turnovers and stealing seven balls. The Rockets (3-6) didn’t make a 3-pointer until a little over four minutes were left in the game, but it didn’t matter because on multiple trips down the court, they weren’t even able to get up a shot before the shot clock fell under 10 seconds.

But the real key to the victory was Temple’s strength inside, which was largely absent versus the Seminoles on Sunday.

The Owls outrebounded the Rockets 56-21, with senior forward Shenita Landry leading the way with 12 of them. She also chipped in 13 points after having her first non-double-digit scoring game of the season on Sunday.

“I think the key was just not fouling as much,” Landry said. “But I know I came out after a low from last game, and I came out with more energy and more leadership.”

And not to be outdone was fellow senior forward Shanea Cotton, who dominated the paint, scoring a new career-high 23 points to lead the game.

“I didn’t even know it was another career high,” Cotton said.

“Don’t let her fool you,” Cardoza added. “Yes, she did know it.”

After leading 31-21 at halftime, the Owls built their lead to as large as 29 points in the second half at 60-31 and 73-44 thanks to 21 second-chance points and two long runs of 9-0 and 10-0.

But it wasn’t all smiles after the game for Cardoza, as the Owls’ 23 turnovers continued to loom large. They average 17.9 a game.

“It’s a recurring problem,” Cardoza said. “It’s not even what the other team is doing to us. It’s what we’re doing to ourselves. So many unforced turnovers. We have to be more aware. We don’t really have to force the issue. Our guard play and the turnovers have got to be corrected.”

The Owls will have 10 days to work on those problems, as they don’t return to action until Dec. 20 at Villanova. It will be the first Big 5 game of the season and Cardoza’s first ever, although she has seen the Wildcats numerous times before during her 14 years at Connecticut.

“I hate to play Villanova,” Cardoza said. “I think everyone does with Harry’s offense and the way they run around out there.”

Now finished its five-game homestand, Temple will embark on a six-game road trip, returning to the Liacouras Center on Jan. 14 to face Rhode Island in the Atlantic Ten Conference home opener.

Game Notes:

The game featured a match-up of two first-year coaches in Cardoza and Toledo’s Tricia Cullop…The Rockets record dropped to 0-5 on the road…No Toledo player scored in double figures in the first half…This was only the second time the two teams have met. The last time out, on Nov. 26, 2006, Temple won 61-51. The Owls will play four Mid-American Conference teams this season.

Jennifer Reardon can be reached at jennifer.reardon@temple.edu.

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