LOWELL, MA — In her first season as a starter for Temple, redshirt-junior guard Shey Peddy not only leads the Owls in scoring but also represents the hardnosed defense that her team strives for each game.
Peddy, who averages a team-high three steals per game, was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team this week on top of being honored as an Atlantic Ten Conference First Team selection.
“It’s really special to me. I take pride in my defense so it feels good to get recognized for that,” Peddy said. “Hopefully, next year I’ll get Defensive Player of the Year. That’s the big one.”
Although Peddy is an offensive machine, scoring a team-high 14.1 points per game for Temple, she also has had a knack for swiping the ball from opponents since her days at Wright State, where she was named to the Horizon League All-Defensive Team twice in two seasons.
After transferred to Temple two years ago and spending last season on the bench due to NCAA Division I transfer rules, Peddy now spearheads an Owls defense that has held opponents to just 55.3 points per game this season.
“That’s the most important thing, how we defend,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “That’s what got us here, is our defense, and that’s what’s going to continue to win games for us.”
Temple’s defense certainly paid dividends Saturday night at the Tsongas Center in the team’s A-10 Tournament quarterfinals win over St. Bonaventure as it held the Bonnies to just 56 points on the night. The Owls forced St. Bonaventure to turn the ball over 15 times, two of which were created by steals from Peddy.
Considering Temple has held A-10 opponents to a conference-best 48.4 points per game this season, the team’s defense was actually a little bit off its usual mark Saturday night.
“Defensively, today wasn’t a good day,” Cardoza said. “We held them to 56 points but how they were able to score – them getting to the free throw line 21 times – showed that we didn’t do as good of a job as I would like to see. But when it mattered, they stepped up and shut people down”
Cardoza, who was named A-10 Coach of the Year this week, has been the mastermind behind Temple scoring offense this season but also demands perfection on the defensive end, always looking for ways to improve. The Owls are holding opponents to just 36.4 percent from the floor on the season, which ranks third in the conference.
“We’ve been talking about Temple’s scoring but yet they’re as good of a defensive team as we’ve seen,” St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley said. “They’re so discipline, and it’s fitting that Tonya won Coach of the Year. She has got them not only playing hard, which is most important, but also playing really disciplined. They did not leave our shooters all night.”
Although Cardoza is appreciative of the recognition she has received in just her third-year at Temple, she also believes that the credit belongs with her players and fellow coaches.
“It’s an honor to be recognized by your peers, but obviously, this award is because of what our team has done,” Cardoza said. “That’s just a credit to our coaching staff and our players. I get the award, but I wouldn’t be able to accept it without the work that these guys have put in.”
Cardoza and Peddy, who are both natives of Roxbury, Mass., will both be looking to be perfect in their home state Sunday afternoon as Temple takes on No. 6 seeded Dayton in the semifinals.
“Hopefully, in round two, we’ll do a better job defensively because we’re going to need it,” Cardoza said.
Jeffrey Janiczek can be reached at email@example.com..