Owls continue to struggle on both ends of floor

Tonya Cardoza’s squad ranks near the bottom of Division I in shooting percentage.

Sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald shoots the ball during the Owls’ 69-58 win against Tulane last Tuesday. | Donald Otto TTN
Sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald shoots the ball during the Owls’ 69-58 win against Tulane last Tuesday. | Donald Otto TTN

Each game, sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald knows the pressure is on.

The Owls have nine active players on their roster – six of whom are listed as guards. With an active roster height of 5-foot-10 and a lack of a consistent inside presence, the burden falls on the guards to facilitate the offense.

“We don’t really have a post presence,” Fitzgerald said. “So we can’t just hit the post and they hit a move and make a layup or anything.”

The team’s three inside players – sophomore center Taylor Robinson, sophomore center Safiya Martin and junior forward Mama Traore – are all averaging less than five points per game and fewer five rebounds per game.

Additionally, Martin is the only player averaging more than 17 minutes per game.

“If our bigs had more talent than what we have now, I feel a lot of games would be different,” junior guard Erica Covile said.

Even Martin understands the Owls are limited in their post presence. Martin, Robinson and Traore have totaled four double-figure scoring games this season, combined. Martin, who said her strength is on the defensive end of the floor, knows where her team’s strong suit is.

“Of course one day we would love to score more with the inside than the outside, that’s something we have to work on,” Martin said. “As of now we are very strong with the guards and that’s what we have to go with.”

 As a team, the Owls are shooting 36.5 percent from the field, which ranks the team in a four-way tie for 290th out of the 343 teams in Division I and eighth in the American Athletic Conference.

The Owls also have four players shooting more than 40 percent from the field – the other five are all shooting less than 35 percent, including Fitzgerald, freshman guard Alliya Butts and senior guard Tyonna Williams, who are averaging 24 or more minutes per game.

Fitzgerald is shooting 33 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3-point range – both of which are down from last season – and she said the reliance on the guards because of inconsistent post play, has been difficult.

“I feel like us being so small has a lot to do with it, as well as us not doing what we have to do,” Fitzgerald said. “But us being small is a big factor because without a post presence, it could be a really tough game.”

Temple also ranks in a four-way tie for 68th in D-I in 3-point field goals per game with 6.0 per game, while shooting 32 percent, which is 137th in D-I.  Fitzgerald said the high volume of 3-pointers have resulted from opposing teams clogging the lanes on defense.

“The guards, ourselves, can get into the lane, but most of the time everyone is way bigger than us so it ends up being punched,” Fitzgerald said. “So we just end up taking the best shot, which is usually a pull-up jump shot or a kick-and-drive to get the three and most of the time our outside jump shots are what we have that’s open so we have no choice to take them.”

Despite the shooting numbers, coach Tonya Cardoza said she will not change the way her team is playing.

“We have a lot of really good shooters, so I’m confident when they put the ball up that it’s going to go in and I’m not going to tell them not to,” Cardoza said.

Offensively, the Owls’ only true post presence, junior guard Covile, is playing a new position.

Covile, who is averaging 11.3 points per game and shooting 42 percent from the field, is listed as a guard on the roster but has transitioned to forward this season.

Despite the change, the Detroit native ranks 47th in D-I in double-doubles, with nine on the season.

Michael Guise can be reached at michael.guise@temple.edu.

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