Temple tames Wildcats at home in Big 5 matchup

Temple struggled in the fourth quarter but defeated Villanova 74-69.

Junior forward Mia Davis dribbles the ball down the court during the Owls' game against Villanova at McGonigle Hall on Dec. 10. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University women’s basketball (6-5, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference) defeated Villanova (4-5) Tuesday at McGonigle Hall by a score of 74-69. Temple won its first Big 5 game of the season after falling to Saint Joseph’s University at Hagan Arena on Nov.11. 

Temple jumped out to an early lead, holding a 44-33 advantage at the end of the first half, but struggled in the fourth quarter. The Owls shot only 3-of-14 on field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

Freshman guard Asonah Alexander paced the Owls’ offense as she reached several career highs. She scored 19 points on 58 percent shooting, collected a career-high 11 rebounds, and dished out seven assists, falling just three assists short of a triple-double.

“I was just trying to be aggressive today,” Alexander said. “I tried to get to the basket as much as possible because coach was talking to me about it after the last game against South Carolina.” 

Alexander scored 12 of her 19 points from inside the paint. As a team, the Owls were strong in the paint, scoring 30 of their 74 points from that area. They also grabbed 47 rebounds as a team to Villanova’s 34. 

Villanova kept the game close and filled an 18-point deficit in the third quarter by attempting 37 three-point shots. The Wildcats scored seven out of 19 three-point attempts in the second half, while Temple only scored eight total field goals out of 28 attempts. 

Coach Tonya Cardoza attributed Villanova’s comeback to a lack of effort on defense in the second half.

“We got a little bit lax because we weren’t scoring,” Cardoza said. “There was a lid on the basket and we couldn’t score in the second half, and our mental state became relaxed because we were worried about what was happening on the offensive end.” 

Villanova’s volume of three-point attempts was the highest Temple had seen this season. As a result, the Owls struggled to adjust early in the game, allowing 44 percent shooting on three-point attempts in the first quarter and 22 points overall. They held the Wildcats to just 11 percent shooting on three-point attempts and 29.4 percent on field goal attempts in the second quarter. 

“This is a tough team to defend against,” Cardoza said. “They are constantly making you work and constantly making you pay attention and defend for the whole 30 seconds of the shot clock. I give credit to my team because the way we defended them is not something we usually work on in practice.” 

Junior forward Mia Davis notched yet another double-double in the win, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. Sophomore guard Marissa Mackins added 15 points and seven assists in 34 minutes. Graduate student forward Lena Niang scored 14 points and added 7 rebounds in 40 minutes.

Temple will be back in action on Dec. 22 against Florida Gulf Coast University (10-1) at McGonigle Hall.

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