The women’s basketball team shot a season-low field goal percentage (25.5) in its 56-47 loss to the Villanova Wildcats on Thursday at McGonigle Hall.
While Tuesday night’s game against UCLA found senior guard Shey Peddy on the ground in the final seconds throwing up a prayer to ice the game, tonight’s game against Villanova wasn’t so wonderfully ugly.
Peddy was knocked to the ground more than her point total, 13, in a physically grueling loss to the Owls’ Big Five rival, 56-47. She ended up shooting a paltry three of 14 from the floor.
“It just wasn’t falling like I wish they were,” Peddy said.
“Yeah, it was pretty physical,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Every other play we had someone knocked down. I thought they were out for good.”
The Wildcats out-hustled, out-worked and physical beat down Temple in a game that was rarely close from the beginning, with the visiting squad jumping out to a 9-0 in less than three minutes. Villanova never looked back, and their lead dipped down to two just once all night.
“Obviously that’s not how we wanted to come out and perform today,” Cardoza said. “Credit to them. They did a really good job of taking advantage of mismatches and defensive clogging the lane and not letting our guys really get any clean looks inside on drives.”
“We have trouble running our offense against them, because they’re such a good defensive team in terms of their lateral movement,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. “So what we tried to do today was take that out of the game, throw the ball to our post kids.”
The loss drops the Owls to 5-6 and 0-1 in the Big Five. With the victory the Wildcats took a commanding 3-0 lead in the race for the Big Five Championship with one more game against Penn.
“This really hurts, because this was an important game for the Big Five championship,” senior guard Kristen McCarthy said.
McCarthy lead the game with 14 points, bringing her within eight points of fifth place in school history. She also recorded seven rebounds.
“That’s really the least of my concerns,” McCarthy said about the points record.
Villanova came out aggressively from the start and never let off the gas until the final buzzer. The team shot 37.7 percent on the night, including 48.1 percent in the first half. Redshirt freshman Emily Leer tied for a team-high 13 points, setting a career high.
“I just thought the game today was a battle,” Leer said. “Big Five games always are, and all the girls played really, really hard.”
“We had a talk yesterday, and I told her just keep doing the things she’s been doing,” Perretta said.
After falling behind quickly 9-0 in the first half the Owls clawed back with their own 7-0 run. But that was as close as they could get, just over four minutes into the game. The Wildcats quickly responded with another 11-0 run and Temple never got within six for the rest of the half. The second half was much of the same, with Villanova struggling to make shots but the home team only knocked the deficit to four points once.
After the game Cardoza was noticeably upset about the way her team focused and the effort they showed. She was not afraid to call out her three senior leaders—McCarthy, Peddy and senior guard BJ Williams.
“A lot of times we have a lot of guards out there that stand around and watch and don’t really look to attack,” Cardoza said. “But [Villanova] do a really good job of putting bodies on people and making sure they don’t get offensive boards.”
Throughout the game the Owls struggled to connect from three, and even had problems spreading the ball to the outside, consistently settling for jumpers or trying to drive the lane. The team has averaged 4.9 a game this season, noticeably lower than last year when then-senior guard Qwedia Wallace set a school record with 162 career three’s.
“Defensively we were a better team last year because [we had Wallace and forward Marli Bennett] who were smart defenders,” Cardoza said. “And we missed that today.”
The Owls shot just 25.5 percent from the floor on the night. Villanova’s bench was the key, as they outscored Temple’s bench 24-6.
“We’re much deeper than we were last year, and we’re committing ourselves to running more,” Perretta said.
“Today we were somewhere else mentally,” Cardoza said. “We weren’t focused in on how we were going to defend them.”
The Owls have eight days to rest, heal and regroup before they host No. 9 Duke on Dec. 30 in McGonigle Hall.
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com.
Series Notes: The loss against Villanova marks Temple’s first lost to the Big 5 school since 2009, when the Owls lost in a similar, low-scoring performance, 44-32, at home.