After a brutal six game road trip in which they failed to salvage a win, the women’s basketball stopped the skid in their first home game in more than a month, beating Western Michigan 68-41 on Monday.
“I’m a very happy person right now. We got that monkey off our back,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “It’s been a tough time for us as a group. We needed a win like this for our confidence and for our sanity.”
The Owl’s received double-digit scoring inputs from four players. Senior center Victoria Macaulay recorded 22 points while sophomore guards Tyonna Williams and Rateska Brown, as well as freshman guard Erica Covile scored 13 points each
“I thought all seven guys that played today did it with a lot of energy and hustle and did a lot of really good things out there,” Cardoza said. “I thought most of it started with [Williams], being the point guard. We’ve turned the ball over a lot and that’s something we need to get better at. The fact that she had 12 assists and zero turnovers is a good start for us.”
As a shooting guard turned point guard in the wake of Monaye Merritt’s ACL tear, Williams has certainly had an up-and-down season. Her zero turnovers, though, may be something to get excited about.
“I didn’t even know I didn’t have any turnovers until coach told me,” Williams said. “I felt like I needed to play a lot better than what I’ve been doing. The Howard game was a big eye-opener for me. I had to look in the mirror and figure out what I was doing wrong.”
With the aid of Williams’ impeccable assist-to-turnover ratio, Temple committed few turnovers than an opponent for the first time this season, committing 12 giveaways compared to Western Michigan’s 16. The Owls also shot 45 percent from the field while the Broncos shot just 24 percent, including 18 percent in the second half.
After losing six straight, the Owls were able to snap out of their funk. Cardoza said that following the final game on the road trip against Howard, her team was able to make progress in the locker room on an emotional level.
“We hit rock bottom the next day,” Cardoza said. “That was probably more important than anything, that we got some things out in the open and dealt with them.”
The game could have perhaps been a lot closer than the score indicates, with the Broncos missing a ton of open shots. Only two Western Michigan players made more than one field goal in the game. Sophomore guard Courtney Haley went 4-of-7 from the floor for a team high ten points, and freshman forward Miracle Woods went 2-for-4 for four points.
But one of the biggest difference-makers in the game was Temple’s ability to out-rebound the Broncos. Although Macaulay is easily the team’s best rebounder, it was redshirt-junior power forward Natasha Thames who dominated the glass for the Owls. Thames scored just four points but grabbed a game high 12 points, including three on the offensive end.
Macaulay, however, bounced back from her worst game of the season against Howard, going 11-of-19 for a game high 22 against Western Michigan. Macaulay said she had an improved mindset heading into the team’s first home game since early December.
“Just taking a step back, just relaxing, just remaining poised [was the difference],” Macaulay said. “I realized that rushing my shots wasn’t doing anything to help my team. For me to be patient tonight and take a step back and not really worry as much about scoring got me really focused on the whole game plan.”
With the losing streak out of the way, Temple (6-8) will now shift their focus to getting ready for Atlantic 10 Conference play. Their first in-conference test will come on the road against St. Bonaventure on Sunday Jan. 1.
“It’s not gonna be easy for us,” Cardoza said. “I don’t all of a sudden think we’re different. Every day we have to get better, and we’ve said that from the start. Our team realizes that if we do the little things and we stay disciplined, that we can win just about every game we play.”
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich.