After dropping its first real road game test against a non-conference opponent with a 65-54 loss to Hartford, the women’s basketball team rebounded with a 62-51 win against Rutgers.
“After losing to Hartford, it was almost like a blessing in disguise because we changed a lot of things, and that’s what helped us get the win today,” sophomore forward Kristen McCarthy said.
One of those changes occurred within the starting lineup, as senior forward Jasmine Stone started over freshman forward Natasha Thames.
“After the first couple of games, it looks like [Thames has] been a little indecisive and unsure, and I thought that bringing her off the bench might take a little bit of pressure off of her,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “It actually worked out tonight because she produced more so than she has in the past couple of games.
“Jasmine has earned it. She has been busting her behind in games and in practice, and she’s just a big body out there,” Cardoza added.
The move to put Thames on the bench worked exactly as Cardoza had planned, as Thames came off the bench for 10 points and seven rebounds during the course of the game. She was one of four Owls who finished with double-digit scoring.
One of the other players who cracked the double-digit mark in scoring was senior guard LaKeisha Eaddy, who broke out of her self-described slump to lead the team with 16 points.
“I definitely have been in a slump. In order for my team to be successful, I have to contribute more than just passing the ball and getting assists and steals,” Eaddy said.
The other top scorers for Temple were McCarthy with 12 points and junior guard Shaqwedia Wallace with 14 points. The team’s balanced attack allowed it to grab the lead early in the game and hold on to it all the way to the finish. Rutgers was able keep pace behind its near-perfect free-throw shooting, as the Scarlet Knight connected on 14-of-17. Rutgers senior guard Brittany Ray led the Scarlet Knights in scoring with 15 points.
“Our main focus was making sure that Brittany Ray didn’t go off on us, trying to limit her touches as much as possible,” Cardoza said. “They have some explosive guards and big post players, but obviously, neither team is really, really deep, so we had to make sure we didn’t commit dumb fouls.”
The team also capitalized on Rutgers’ 21 turnovers. Wallace led the way on that front with five steals.
“It’s not like we jumped into the passing lanes. They have players that create a lot of offense for themselves, and [we were] just staying solid and letting them make mistakes, not so much that we’re going out and pressuring them, but letting them make the mistakes, and it happened for us tonight,” Cardoza said.
“Since I’ve been here we haven’t beaten Rutgers, so to go out with a victory over them is definitely exciting for me,” Eaddy added.
With the win in hand, the team remains on the road with a Dec. 8 contest against Hampton before returning home Dec. 10 for a game against Ohio at McGonigle Hall.
Game Notes: Temple and Rutgers have played each other every season for nine years. This was the Owls’ first win against the Scarlet Knights since the 2005-2006 season. Temple leads the Atlantic Ten Conference in steals-per-game with 12.7.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at email@example.com.