After three straight losses to start their season, Temple University women’s basketball (4-4, 4-1 The American Athletic Conference) is finding their groove in conference play.
Temple has won four of their last five games, including a four-game win streak to begin conference play.
The Owls’ recent success is because their forwards are producing at a high level in the post, especially offensively. Temple has outscored their opponent in the paint in three of their four wins this season, making up for their lack of efficient scoring from 3-point range.
“I like the state of our team right now,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza. “They’re supporting one another, they’re leaning on each other, and good things are happening to them.”
Senior forward Mia Davis was named co-preseason player of the year as part of The American’s preseason awards, and so far she has lived up to that. Davis is second in the conference in scoring and averages 21 points per game on more than 13 shot attempts, the majority of which come from the post.
Although Davis is happy with her scoring numbers so far this season and her preseason awards, she’s aiming for a higher honor this season, she said.
“I’d like to accomplish that goal, to be player of the year,” Davis said.
One challenge for the Owls this season is finding ways to alleviate the burden on Davis in the post, who is second on the team in minutes played and first in field goals attempted, Cardoza said.
In response, junior forward Alexa Williamson has stepped up this season as another post scorer for the Owls.
She is averaging 10.6 points along with 5.7 rebounds and one block per game this season. She scored a career-high 20 points against Tulsa on Dec. 23, 2020, followed by 19 points against ECU on Jan. 6.
“Williamson has an advantage against a lot of teams I think,” Cardoza said. “She’s one of those guys I believe that can help [Davis] out.”
It hasn’t been easy at points during the season for the Owls to score outside of the post. Despite being fifth in the conference in scoring, Temple is 10th in the conference in 3-point shooting.
“It’s frustrating because we’re not shooting the ball well,” said freshman guard Jasha Clinton. “But our coaches have made us comfortable so we can keep shooting, and hopefully they start going in.”
Clinton has played better recently, scoring 17 and 23 points in her last two games. She averages 11.9 points, 3.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game but is only shooting 27.9 from 3-point range.
“I’m just trying to stay connected with my teammates, to learn from them and better myself,” Clinton said.
Davis leads the Owls in 3-point shooting percentage, but she’s only taken 16 attempts from beyond the arc, which is tied for just fourth on the team.
Temple’s next opponent is Houston (7-4, 4-3 The American), who is only allowing teams to shoot 24.7 percent from 3-point range this season, which ranks second-best in the AAC.
If the Owls can continue to get contributions and better outside shooting from their young guards like Clinton, while still getting production from Williamson and Davis in the post, they can compete for the AAC regular season championship.