After the Owls failed to get the ball into the frontcourt and committed one of their 22 first-half turnovers, senior guard Tanaya Atkinson pulled the team together to figure out what was going wrong.
“I just wanted to calm them down,” Atkinson said. “We weren’t playing in our own game, and we had a lot of young guys out there. So I thought I was the one who needed to talk to them.”
Despite committing 35 turnovers, Temple (7-2) made up a 12-point, second-quarter deficit to beat Hampton University, 65-56, on Thursday at McGonigle Hall.
Temple committed more than 30 turnovers in a game for the first time since its five-overtime loss to Memphis in February 2016.
“We’re lucky to escape this game with a win after all of those turnovers,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I think that Hampton just ran out of time to come back, to be honest. They got out and were [pressing] us, and that’s where they were able to get their lead.”
Temple’s 7-2 start to the season is its best since the 2009-10 campaign when it started 9-1 on its way to 25 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Owls never trailed after freshman guard Breanna Perry’s layup tied the score at 38 with six minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Perry’s basket started a 14-0 run to close the third quarter.
The run extended to 16-0 when Atkinson made a layup with 9:18 left in the fourth quarter to put the Owls up by 14 points. Atkinson scored 12 of her 25 points in the second half and scored eight during the Owls’ run.
Like Atkinson, freshman guard Emani Mayo started and played all 40 minutes. In her fifth straight start, Mayo scored 14 of her career-high 19 points in the second half.
In her previous three games, she shot 3-for-25 from the field and scored 10 points. She made 3-of-8 3-point attempts after shooting 0-for-11 from beyond the arc in her past four games.
Mayo shot 7-for-14 from the field on Thursday against Hampton.
“Well, I just want to be aggressive,” Mayo said. “They were trying to turn us over the whole game. I just went out there trying to make plays.”
Temple went up 9-2 early after a personal 6-0 run from Atkinson, but then Hampton switched to a 2-2-1 press defense and caused the Owls some problems. After starting to press, Hampton went on a 16-0 run and forced 10 turnovers in the final 6:21 of the first quarter.
“We gotta be better because teams are gonna continue to press us like that if we turn the ball over like we did tonight,” Cardoza said. “We just needed to put them in the right position, work better angles against the press.”
In the second quarter, Temple continued to struggle offensively. The Owls scored 16 points in the quarter, but they turned the ball over 10 more times. They, however, cut into their deficit because of their defensive effort.
Temple held Hampton to 11 points in the second quarter. The Pirates only scored four points in the third quarter on 2-of-16 shooting and didn’t score in the final 7:16.
Temple allowed the Pirates to score more than half of their points off turnovers, but it also outrebounded Hampton, 50-26. Atkinson had 10 rebounds to record her 22nd career double-double. Freshman forward Mia Davis had a game-high 14 rebounds.
“It was big for our defense to only hold them to four points in the third quarter because they couldn’t get set in their press when we were getting stops,” Cardoza said. “And we were able to get out in transition and score, finishing with 18 points on the fast break.”
After Thursday’s win, the Owls will prepare for their third Big 5 game of the season against Villanova on Sunday at 2 p.m. at McGonigle Hall. To start the season, the Wildcats have won eight games in a row, including their upset of a top-15 ranked Duke University team on Nov. 19.
Villanova, No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, is ranked for the first time since 2004.