PREVIEW: What to expect from Temple Women’s Basketball this season

Returning talent and new faces should help Temple turn a corner this season.

The Owls are looking to improve this season following a disappointing 11-18 season. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

At the beginning of last season, Temple Women’s Basketball started with a full roster. There was a lot of talent on paper, including a backcourt consisting of two Coastal Athletic Conference transfers that were some of the best scorers in the conference. The program seemed to have a new identity after its all-time leading scorer Mia Davis, graduated.

However, things didn’t quite go as planned when projected starter Kendall Currence went down with a torn ACL before the season started.

Though the Owls found some success, there were issues in the locker room, culminating in head coach Diane Richardson’s decision to dismiss guards Jasha Clinton and Aniya Gourdine from the team. Jalynn Holmes and Kourtney Wilson also left the program, and the Owls were left with eight active players and struggled to compete in conference play, finishing with a record of 6-10.

Richardson feels her team has something to prove this season after being projected to finish ninth in the AAC preseason poll. With a healthy squad that has brought in fresh faces, Richardson hopes to take a step forward in her second season. 

“A championship is the goal for myself and for the team,” said guard Aleah Nelson. “We talk about it every day, and that’s my goal: get a ring and get out of here on a high note.”


Richardson reloaded the roster, adding five freshmen, Vanderbilt transfer Demi Washington and junior college national champion Alexandra Wilkinson. 

However, the two biggest changes to the lineup may be from players who were already a part of the program.

Forward Rayne Tucker followed Richardson from Towson last year after averaging six points and nearly four rebounds. Tucker, who sat out last year to comply with NCAA transfer rules, can provide the Owls with depth in their frontcourt, especially after the departures of Caranda Perrea and Brittany Garner.

Currence’s return is the other key in-house addition. In the 2021-22 season, Currence put up 16 points per game and was named to the All-Coastal Athletic Conference first team. She should immediately step in and provide another scoring punch for a team that ranked 219th in the country in points per game last season.

“It was hard in the beginning, not having basketball and having to do all the boring things to get back,” Currence said. “I don’t think anything has changed, and I just want to get back out there and contribute.” 


Temple returned a majority of its rotation, headlined by Nelson. She has quickly become the leader on the floor, ranking first on the team in minutes, points and assists while being the only player to start all 29 games. 

Nelson’s performance earned her a spot on the preseason All-AAC list. Despite the accolades, Nelson is staying true to one goal: finishing her college career on a high note.

“This is my last year, and I want to be able to give everything I have to the team,” Nelson said. “I’m going to give it my all every time I step on the court and do whatever the coaches and players need me to do.”

Guards Tiarra East and Tarriyonna Gary also played important roles on last year’s team. East started 18 games and led the team in rebounds and steals while finishing second in minutes and points. Gary started the final 26 games of the season and led the team in three point percentage.

East, Gary, Nelson and Currence could prove to be one of the better backcourts in the AAC. Washington and Tristen Taylor also provide depth and scoring off the bench, meaning Richardson’s vision of an “equal opportunity offense” could look much different this season.

“My expectation is to score and to defend and to help lead the team,” Nelson said. “I want us to score in transition and to score a lot. We want to score the ball as quickly as we can and as much as we can.”

In the frontcourt, Denise Solis, who started 10 games last season, and Ines Piper, who led the team in blocks, provide experience in the paint for freshman Jaleesa Molina. Depth on the interior was a major issue for the Owls. They scored just 28 percent of the team’s points and ranked 10th in the conference in rebounding. 

Richardson believes that won’t be an issue this season.

“When a team put in their bigs, it was like, ‘Oh no, here we go again,’” Richardson said. “We filled those holes with some impact players like Jaleesa Molina and Rayne Tucker.”


Temple’s non-conference schedule features challenges against 2022 NCAA Tournament teams Villanova and No. 12 Ole Miss, which could prepare them for the rigors of AAC play.

The Owls will play 16 conference games, facing every opponent. Two more 2022 NCAA Tournament teams, South Florida and East Carolina, are projected to be just as good, and the six new AAC teams will present Temple with matchups it has not seen before.

Coming off a tumultuous first year, Richardson has retooled the roster. The team hopes to play the style of basketball Richardson imagined when she originally took the job while taking steps toward competing.

“You will see a much different Temple team this year,” Richardson said. “We are going to use the full roster to play at a high pace, play with precision and we are going to pressure the heck out of teams.”

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