When Temple University women’s basketball defeated Duquesne University (6-9, 1-2 The Atlantic-10 Conference) 67-55 to extend its winning streak to three games on Dec. 5, 2021, the Owls believed they began a hot stretch they could ride into conference play, said head coach Tonya Cardoza.
Instead, the Owls dropped three straight games against Saint Joseph’s University (5-9, 1-1 The Atlantic-10), Northwestern University (11-4, 3-1 The Big Ten Conference) and Old Dominion University (11-2, 1-0 Conference-USA), before their season paused on Dec. 29 due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols within the program.
Then, the Owls’ games against La Salle University (8-6, 1-1 Atlantic-10), University of Central Florida (11-2, 3-0 The American) and Southern Methodist University (8-6, 2-0 The American) were all postponed, leaving them without a win for more than 34 days.
During the postponements, Temple worked out in small groups instead of practicing as a team, said graduate student forward Mia Davis.
“I worked out and conditioned,” Davis added. “Basically it depended on which program it was on, but I worked out with one or two other people.”
If someone tested positive within the program, every player went through contact tracing, symptom testing and quarantining until they were deemed safe to return to basketball activities, said graduate student center Shantay Taylor.
During the break, the Owls’ main focus was making sure everyone stayed in shape to be ready when they could resume play, Cardoza said.
“A lot of it was just making sure that we didn’t rush anybody,” Cardoza added. “We made sure that we took our time with strength and conditioning with our trainers to make sure that we got everyone out there for the right amount of time.”
In their first game back after three consecutive postponements, the Owls defeated the University of Cincinnati (7-8, 0-3 The American), their conference rival, 75-68 on Jan. 8 – the most points they scored in a game all season.
“We didn’t get to practice as an entire team until the Wednesday before our first game back,” Cardoza said. “Up until that point, we only had about six guys that could really get in and practice.”
Despite the lack of practice leading up to the game, the Owls still recorded more rebounds, blocks, steals and a better shooting percentage than the Bearcats, and led by as much as 15 points in the victory.
Thanks to the extra rest, the team had a chance to refocus before returning to the court, Taylor said.
“We were a little on edge because we had lost three in a row, so the break really helped us focus and come back and win an important game,” Taylor said.
The Owls’ top two scorers, Davis and junior forward Alexa Williamson, picked up right where they left off, both finishing the game with more than 20 points while shooting more than 50 percent from the field.
Forty-six of the Owls’ 75 points came from in the paint. Going forward, the Owls will emphasize scoring more points in the paint, Cardoza said.
“We need to continue to do a good job of attacking,” Cardoza added. “When we attack we are either scoring or getting ourselves to the free-throw line rather than just always settling for three-pointers.”
The Owls will look to secure back-to-back wins when they return home to host the University of Houston (9-6, 2-1 The American) on Jan. 15 at noon.