Owls’ thin roster poses challenges down the stretch

After their win against Wichita State, Temple Women’s Basketball is heading into the home stretch of conference play and with eight players, their roles will need to be increased.

Temple Women's Basketball head coach Diane Richardson has only been able to utilize eight players down the stretch. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Women’s Basketball’s three-game winning streak was snapped after a 65-60 loss to Houston on Feb. 4. However, those wins did not come easy for the Owls who only had eight available players.

The consecutive wins came after head coach Diane Richardson initially suspended sophomore guards Jasha Clinton and Aniya Gourdine on Jan. 25 for the contest against Tulane. Eventually, they were dismissed from the squad for a violation of team rules on Jan. 27.

“They are no longer part of the team,” Richardson said on Feb. 1 after the 72-59 victory against Wichita State (13-10, 3-7 The American Athletic Conference). “I can’t comment on kids that are not part of this team.”

The latest loss against Houston puts the Owls in seventh place, a game behind Memphis (13-9, 5-4 The American) in the AAC standings and just a few positions shy of earning a first round bye in the conference tournament in March. With their at-large chances out the window, Temple’s (10-12, 5-5 The American) only hope of qualifying for the NCAA tournament will be winning the conference tournament. 

The Owls roster is thin heading into the home stretch of conference play, but if they have any hopes of putting together a miraculous run in the AAC tournament, Temple will need to have consistent scorers and win the turnover battle. 

Here are some takeaways from Temple’s previous two games: 

Lack of Depth 

Having only eight players for the remainder of the season is going to impact how Temple utilizes their lineups down the stretch. Senior guard Aleah Nelson has been the focal point for the Owls’ offense all season long, averaging 15.6 points per game putting Nelson sixth in the AAC in scoring. 

However, Nelson can’t be the only player running the offense, Richardson needs to continue to employ her equal opportunity concept, allowing other players to become offensive threats on the court.

The development of sophomore forward Caranda Perea could not have come at a better time. Perea has played her best two games of the season against Wichita State and Houston and finished with a career-high 17 points while going 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and grabbing four rebounds against Wichita State. The forward’s previous career high of 15 points came against the Shockers last year at The Liacouras Center. 

Perea followed up her dominant night against Wichita State with a better game against Houston. She surpassed her previous career-high of eight rebounds with 13 boards, the most any Temple player has grabbed this season.

Sophomore forward Tiarra East, who has come off the bench this season for the Owls, is now a starter, giving her a chance to display her well-rounded skills. 

In her 35 minutes of play, East put together a solid game against the Shockers with 14 points, two blocks and two steals. While playing close to a full 40 minutes against Houston, East grabbed eight rebounds and led Temple in scoring with 16 points. In upcoming games, the forward will play valuable minutes in hopes of rejuvenating the Owls efforts from both sides of the ball. 

While Richardson’s equal opportunity offense has improved with the development of Perea and East, the Owls may not be as efficient as they were with a full lineup at the beginning of the season. However, Richardson still expects her team to play through their lack of depth and grow from the challenge in hopes of winning games. 

In the contest against Wichita State, all eight Temple players to step on the floor recorded baskets, shooting 46 percent from the floor and totaling 19 team assists.

“We’ve had that all season, and everybody knows that they have the green light,” Richardson said. “[We’re] just adjusting to only having eight [players]. It took them a while, but as you can see, everyone is confident in scoring.”

Too Many Turnovers 

Temple limited their turnovers against Wichita State by working the ball through a half court offense, only losing the basketball 13 times. The Owls then lost 26 turnovers against Houston by forcing passes, and unnecessary offensive movement.

Houston (9-13, 6-3 The American) pressured Temple with their full court press defense, forcing the Owls to play isolation ball and ignore open teammates down the floor who could break the press.

“They’ve got a full squad and they just sub in and press the entire time, and with eight players there was some fatigue setting in,” Richardson said. “We’ve just got to get better at some things, and definitely when handling the ball.”

Limiting turnovers and slowing down their offense with eight players will be crucial for the remainder of the season.

On Tap 

The Owls will travel to face East Carolina (15-8, 6-4 American Athletic Conference) on Thursday for a 6 p.m. tipoff. With some help from around the conference, Temple could find themselves in fourth place in the AAC standings by the end of the night.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.