Owls notch first win in conference opener

The Owls picked up their first win of the 2020-21 season against SMU, breaking their three game-losing streak.

Junior forward Alexa Williamson shoots the ball during the Owls' game against Southern Methodist University at McGonigle Hall on Dec. 20. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University women’s basketball (1-3, 1-0 The American Athletic Conference) opened up conference play by picking up their first win of the season Sunday afternoon, taking down Southern Methodist (0-6, 0-2 The American) by a score of 73-57. 

The Owls led at halftime by just three points, but were dominant in the second half, outscoring SMU 24-6 in the third quarter. 

“We really bared down on the defensive side and we were able to get out in transition,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza. “That’s when we’re at our best.” 

Previously in their first three games, the Owls struggled to keep their momentum from the first half, so Cardoza made sure to emphasize starting quicker during practice this week, she said. 

“Normally I have to call a timeout within the first two minutes of the half,” Cardoza added.

The Owls’ defense smothered the Mustangs all day, forcing 10 steals and recording seven blocks while holding SMU to just 28 percent shooting from the field. 

“We made a lot of hustle plays,” said senior forward Mia Davis. “I think that was the key for us, everybody was hustling and talking.”

Four of the Owls seven blocks came from junior forward Alexa Williamson. Graduate student guard Jada Graves was also impactful on the defensive end, forcing three steals that turned into transition baskets.

Offensively, the Owls took advantage of the Mustangs’ shorter lineup.

“SMU went with four guards and one forward, so we knew we were going to have a mismatch somewhere,” Davis said.

Davis turned in a strong performance, scoring 22 points on just eight field goal attempts and bringing down 15 rebounds. Davis thrived at the free throw line, making 14 of 17 attempts. 

The Owls shot 37 free throws on the game, taking advantage of SMU’s aggressiveness on defense to draw more fouls, Davis said.

Williamson had a strong performance on the offensive end as well, recording 15 points on 50 percent shooting from the field on top of her standout defensive performance. 

Despite not making any 3-pointers, the Owls’ offense were productive, outscoring SMU 44-16 in the paint. 

The Owls will look to add another win when they continue conference play against Tulsa (1-1, 0-1 The American) at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at McGonigle Hall. 

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