After losing to three straight ranked opponents, sophomore guard BJ Williams and the women’s basketball team needed an easy game to restore their confidence.
By thrashing Fordham, 67-34, on Wednesday, it seems Temple got just that.
The Owls started off on an 8-1 run before seeing the Rams fight back to make it 15-13. After that, it was all Cherry and White as Temple used a 16-5 run to give themselves some breathing room, entering halftime up, 31-18.
After closing the gap to 39-29 with 14:35 remaining in the second half, Fordham went ice cold, failing to score another point until a little over a minute remained in the game. It wasn’t the first time that Temple Coach Tonya Cardoza, a former assistant to Geno Auriemma at Connecticut, had seen a team go flat, she joked after the game.
“Sorry, but I coached at UConn, and I’ve seen it happen,” Cardoza said. “I haven’t coached that personally here at Temple, but yes I’ve seen that happen.”
The Owls shot 46.3 percent for the game, including 47.8 percent from beyond the arch. In the end, the Owls sank 11 three-pointers a mere game after completing a program record 13 against Xavier. The open three-point looks are a result of the Owls intentionally looking to spread the offense around, Cardoza said.
“We wanted to come out and establish ourselves early,” Cardoza said. “We wanted to have a good balance, inside-outside. It seems like we’re getting a lot of wide open threes, and we took a lot of threes in the first half. Fortunately, we made them.”
Williams, starting in place of injured senior guard LaKeisha Eaddy, scored 13 points while dishing out a career high 10 assists in the rout. Williams has now played an average of 38 minutes in the two games since Eaddy’s concussion. The 5-foot-7 Maryland native’s success has been a result of a sudden maturation, Cardoza said.
“BJ and I had a conversation during the middle of the season, just talking about her role and where she was and where she is now,” Cardoza said. “She’s had a new found look on basketball and her life. She wants to give all of herself now because she knows how important [basketball] is to her. This is a credit to BJ. She’s obviously really, really talented, but this is the result of hard work.”
“I’ve always known that [Cardoza] had confidence in me,” Williams added. “I wanted to come in and step up and play my role on this team. I wanted to give my teammates everything I had. Eaddy’s out, so I needed to step up and do whatever I could.”
Temple junior guard Qwedia Wallace scored a game-high 17 points. Junior forward Marli Bennett (10) and sophomore forward Kristen McCarthy (13) also joined Williams and Wallace in double digit scoring.
Freshman center Victoria Macaulay made her second consecutive start for the Owls, replacing senior Jasmine Stone. Macaulay finished with three rebounds and a blocked shot in 15 minutes of play. The shift at the center position came as a result of Macaulay’s development in practice, Cardoza said.
“Victoria comes to practice every single day and tries to give me what I want from that center position,” Cardoza said. “I rewarded her by starting her. Hopefully, she can continue to get better. Today’s numbers might not show it, but what she’s given me in practice is more than enough for me to start her right now.”
The Owls return to the Liacouras Center on Saturday to play the Saint Joseph’s Hawks in the second game of a Men’s-Women’s doubleheader. Tipoff is set for 4:30.
Game Notes:Williams also had a career high four rebounds. The game marked Williams’ first career double-double…The announced attendance was 547…Wallace’s five three pointers tied a career high…Fordham shot 24.5 percent for the game, the second lowest percentage by a Temple opponent all year. Eastern Michigan shot 23.3 percent in their Nov 24 loss at the Liacouras Center.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org