The women’s basketball team took care of business Wednesday night, defeating a second-place Charlotte team, and they did the same thing today, beating Richmond, 65-52. With the win, the Owls move to 18-8 overall and 9-3 in the Atlantic Ten Conference, a full two games ahead of the Spiders (19-8, 7-5).
“We’re definitely excited and happy that we won the game since a couple games ago we lost to UMass, and our backs were up against the wall,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I thought we played two really good games against Charlotte and Richmond.”
Temple didn’t start out the game well, though, only briefly holding leads at 2-0 and 4-2 before grabbing the lead for three minutes near the end of the first half. Richmond, however, promptly answered the Owls’ 6-0 run with an 8-2 run of its own to head into the locker room with a 28-26 lead.
“Richmond did a really good job of taking away what we normally like to go to,” Cardoza said. “We got into some early foul trouble with Kristen [McCarthy] and Shanea [Cotton], so they had to sit on the bench for most of the first half.”
Both senior forward Cotton and freshman guard McCarthy picked up two quick fouls at the 17-minute and 16-minute mark in the first half, respectively.
“I knew I was going to have to sit for the rest of the half,” McCarthy said. “But I was well-rested coming back for the rest of the game.”
McCarthy hit back-to-back jumpers to start the second half, but it was junior point guard LaKeisha Eaddy who shouldered the load in her and Cotton’s absence, leading all scorers in both the first and second halves. She finished with 21 points, though the most glaring statistic was her assist-to-turnover ratio. It was 1-to-9.
“I’m always concerned about turnovers,” Cardoza said. “I know LaKeisha had a lot of turnovers today, but in the first half, our guards didn’t do a really good job of getting open for her so she felt like she had to keep the ball in her hands a lot. But she did a tremendous job of not getting frustrated to the point of not contributing anything. She did a lot of the offensive scoring for us, especially when no one else was able to score. Basically, in the first half, [our big people] missed wide-open layups. But no matter what, I want the ball in her hands.”
No one else scored because Richmond sophomore forward/center Crystal Goring dominated the paint in the first half with 10 points, five rebounds and four steals – a bit of a surprise for Cardoza.
“That’s not something that they really normally do as a team,” she said. “Their perimeter players are normally the guys they go to to score. Goring normally averages six points, and she was able to get 19, so they went to her a lot more than they normally do.”
The Spiders reverted back to their old ways in the second half, settling for outside jump shots rather than pounding the ball inside to Goring. At one point, they went seven minutes without scoring and nine minutes without a field goal, as Temple built its lead from two points at 39-37 to 10 points at 53-43. And even once Richmond finally found the basket, the Owls responded with a 12-6 run that was highlighted by an Eaddy 3-pointer. That built the lead to 60-46 and essentially ended the game.
“Defensively in the second half, I think we did a better job of communicating and knowing when to switch and when to help off and when to jump into passing lanes and get steals,” Cardoza said.
The Owls face No.17 Xavier in their last home game of the season Wednesday night. The Musketeers are 23-4 overall and are undefeated in conference play at 11-0.
“Obviously we’ve got to take care of the ball and get our post players more involved against them,” Cardoza said. “We’re going to try to put ourselves in position to get a top four seed in the [A-10] Tournament so that we can get an extra day’s rest.”
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at email@example.com.