Relentless defense leads Temple to bounce-back win

Temple Women’s Basketball forced mistakes by pressuring Bucknell up and down the floor Friday, earning a 77-53 win.

Temple Women's Basketball got off to a slow start and couldn't recover, falling to No. 23 Ole Miss on the road Wednesday. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Following Temple’s loss to Georgetown Thursday, head coach Diane Richardson said her team had some things to work on. Saturday night, the Owls got back to their roots, playing with an equal-opportunity offense and relentless defense.

Early on, the Owls put themselves in a big hole against Georgetown, but they didn’t make the same mistake Saturday against Bucknell, jumping out to a 15-6 first-quarter lead and never looking back. 

“When we watched the film, we saw what we did and didn’t do,” Richardson said. “ We didn’t hang our heads, well just for a day, but we got it back.”

Temple Women’s Basketball (2-1, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) took down Bucknell (0-2, 0-0 Patriot League) 77-53 Saturday night at The Liacouras Center. Despite some early offensive struggles, the Owls’ defense was persistent all game, helping them to the win to close out their opening homestand.

Both offenses came out slow, as neither team made a field goal for the first three minutes of the game or shot more than 30 percent in the first quarter. Temple had a nine-point lead. 

Temple did not play a completely clean game, turning the ball over 18 times and picking up 27 fouls. They also struggled from three, making just three shots from deep and shooting 16 percent. 

However, the Owls’ offense found its groove in the second quarter, outscoring the Bison 26-11 and shooting 57 percent from the field. Temple finished the game shooting 44 percent from the floor.

“We set out that we were going to be positive the whole entire game,” Richardson said. “Even though shots weren’t falling they stayed confident and resilient and kept shooting.”

Temple’s defense was the real story of the first half. They started playing a full-court press just two minutes into the game which helped set the tone on both sides of the floor. 

The Owls held Bucknell to 17 first-half points, and the Bison scored only five field goals. The Owls forced 14 first-half turnovers and turned it into 16 points, building a 41-17 halftime lead. 

Temple kept its foot on the gas in the second half, keeping the Bison to a measly 31 percent shooting and forcing ten more turnovers. At the end of 40 minutes, Temple forced 24 Bucknell turnovers, 11 of which were steals, and guard Tiarra East set a career-high with six of them.

“Every day in practice we end up pressuring the ball and playing the pass,” East said. “When we put a lot of pressure on the ball we are able to see the next pass come and just go with it.”

The Owls won the battle on the glass by a wide margin, out-rebounding Bucknell 32-12 in the first half, including 18 offensive rebounds. 

Temple continued to dominate the glass in the second half, finishing with a 48-31 rebound advantage, its most rebounds in a game since the 2020 season opener. The Owls also had  22 offensive rebounds, leading to 23 second-chance points. Guard Kendall Currence led the way with seven rebounds and tacked on 10 points.

“Somebody told me that 48 rebounds is a lot compared to last year, which is true,” Richardson said. “Forty-eight rebounds is what we want to consistently do, which we were not able to do last year since we did not have an entire post presence.” 

Eleven different Owls scored in the matchup, and six of them ended in double figures, showcasing Richardson’s belief in having several scorers on the floor at all times. 

Guard Aleah Nelson and forward Ines Piper led the charge for Temple. Nelson finished with 12 points, and Piper played another complete game, ending with 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks. 

“[Ines] came into this year saying she needed to do more,” Richardson said. “So she buckled down and got her timing right and she knows that we depend on her to get rebounds and she has really put in the extra work.”

The Owls hit the road for the first time this season for their toughest game yet. They’ll head to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on No. 12 Ole Miss (1-1, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) on Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.

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