The 49ers eliminated Temple in last year’s A-10 Tournament.
Last week, the women’s basketball team (17-6 overall, 6-2 Atlantic Ten Conference) rebounded from its 64-54 loss to St. Bonaventure on Jan. 30 by winning two straight games in the Big 5. Temple picked up a 58-56 win against Saint Joseph’s last Tuesday and a 55-34 win versus La Salle this past Saturday. The Owls finished 4-1 in Big 5 play, which locked them into second place behind Villanova. The Wildcats beat Temple, 44-32, back on Dec. 20.
“I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Every game has been tough. It’s something that I’ve got to get used to. When it’s time to throw the ball up, all the Philadelphia teams want to beat the heck out of [each other], so we’ve got to make sure that we come out next year ready to fight and kill everybody to try to regain the title.”
Senior guard LaKeisha Eaddy scored the game-winning basket with 3.9 seconds left to give the Owls the win against the Hawks last Tuesday.
“With the St. Joe’s game, we fought hard, and it was a tough win, but it’s frustrating because we keep making the same mistakes,” Cardoza said.
Though the Owls have won their past two games, they have committed 20-plus turnovers in each of the contests – 23 against St. Joe’s and 21 against La Salle.
“A lot of our turnovers have nothing to do with what the defense is doing. It’s just losing our minds sometimes and not focused and not paying attention,” Cardoza said. “We just got to bear down and take care of the ball.”
Up next, the Owls begin a three-game home stretch that starts Wednesday at McGonigle Hall against Massachusetts (9-14 overall, 3-5 A-10). The Minutewomen are coming off a 60-50 win against Fordham and are led by sophomore forward Kristina Danella, who averages 13.6 points per game. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Saturday, the Owls will face Charlotte (14-9 overall, 7-2 A-10), the squad that knocked them out of the A-10 Conference Tournament last season by beating them 70-53 in the semifinals. Both teams lost their respective leading scorers from their last matchup. Junior forward Lindsay Kimmel transferred to Villanova, while Charlotte’s Tracy Ray and Danielle Burgin graduated. Kimmel led the Owls with 10 points, while Ray scored 16 points and Burgin added a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
The current leading scorer for the 49ers is junior guard Shannon McCallum, who averages 12.6 points per game. The location of this game works in the Owls’ favor, as Charlotte has struggled outside the Queen City. Eight of the team’s nine total losses this season have come on the road.
The key to victory will be limiting turnovers, as Charlotte ranks third in the A-10 in steals with 9.2 per game. Temple average 19.3 turnovers, which is more than any team in the A-10.
“We can’t have any slip-ups,” Cardoza said. “Right now, we have six games left, and all six teams are good enough to beat us, and we have to make sure we come out and play hard because if we don’t do the things that we need to, I don’t know what our future is going to look like. We put ourselves in good position early on, but we have to finish strong.”
Tipoff is at 1 p.m.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at email@example.com.