The women’s basketball team won its second straight game, but the Owls didn’t make things easy on themselves through the way they played in the first half.
Playing against a struggling team in Massachusetts, Temple (9-11, 2-3) shot just 27 percent in the first half and clung to a one-point lead at the break. However, a 13-2 run in the second half allowed the Owls to pull away and close out the game, winning 66-54.
“Even though we were up [at halftime], I told the team that [UMass] won that half because they outworked us and out-hustled us,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I felt like in the first half we didn’t defend like we did in the Richmond game.”
With a sub-par first half behind them, the Owls shot 38 percent in the second half. They turned the ball over 15 times on the afternoon, well below their season average.
Although Temple allowed 29 points in the second half, Cardoza felt as though her team’s defensive effort improved greatly following halftime.
“I feel like in the second half we tried a little bit harder to make that extra play,” Cardoza said. “We focused a little more defensively. They still scored points but I felt like the effort was a little bit different.”
Just two games removed from a dismal performance against La Salle in which she turned the ball over nine times in 15 minutes, sophomore point guard Tyonna Williams erupted in the win over UMass (3-19, 1-6). Williams scored a career-high 23 points on 6-of-16 shooting, playing every minute of the game. She still committed five turnovers, but she also dished out seven assists.
Sophomore shooting guard Rateska Brown backed Williams with 21 points of her own on 7-of-15 shooting. Cardoza came away pleased with her back court’s 44 combined point total.
“I think [Williams and Brown] got a lot of looks early because [UMass] was closing in and double-teaming [senior center Victoria Macaulay],” Cardoza said. “[Williams] is the type of person that if you stand off of her, she’s gonna take it personal. She felt like she was in a rhythm, and we needed that because we didn’t get a lot of points in the paint from our post-players.”
Macaulay recorded her ninth double-double of the season in what was an all-around strong offensive game for the Owls. Macaulay had 14 points and 12 rebounds on 5-of-19 shooting. She also blocked a career-high seven shots and stole the ball five times.
“[Macaulay] was just helping out in situations where she needed to,” Cardoza said. “She was ready to help because [UMass] put the ball on the floor, so she was back there protecting the basket for our guards.”
UMass finished the game with three players in double-figures, despite losing its sixth consecutive game and 14th and its last 15th. Redshirt-junior forward Klara Bomben led the team with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Freshman forward Rashida Timbilla had 12 points and 11 rebounds in the losing effort, and redshirt-junior guard Carolann Cloutler chipped in with 10 points.
After winning back-to-back Atlantic 10 Conference games for the first time this season, Temple will now shift its focus to a road game against Charlotte on Wednesday Feb. 6.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich.