Temple women’s basketball gets ‘rattled’ against Penn

Temple turned the ball over 16 times during its 74-59 loss on Wednesday to Penn at McGonigle Hall.

Penn entered Wednesday’s game against Temple with the fewest turnovers in Division I.

The Quakers forced 16 turnovers, while only committing nine, nearly four below their season average, in their 74-59 win at McGonigle Hall.

Temple (9-10, 2-2 Big 5, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) lost its fifth game in a row and a chance to claim a share of the Big 5 title with Villanova. Penn (10-5, 3-1 Big 5) won its second Big 5 title in program history and its eighth game in its past nine tries.

Turnovers were a major factor in the outcome, however, the majority of Temple’s turnovers were unforced, as Penn only had four steals. Wednesday was Temple’s 10th game with 15 or more turnovers, including four games with 20 or more turnovers.

“I’ve been saying this for a while now that our focus has to be there, and focus is on both sides of the basketball,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Focusing on paying attention to what they’re doing and how we want to defend. Focus on making sure we’re smart with the ball and where we want to pass. I felt like today we were really, really rattled in the head and once the game started to get away from us we just lost our composure.”

The Quakers pressured Temple immediately after each made basket. This affected Temple’s offense tremendously and led to many of the Owls’ turnovers.

Temple senior guards Tanaya Atkinson and Khadijah Berger combined for six turnovers. The Owls’ starters had nine of the team’s turnovers.

“I’d say the press did slow us down,” said freshman guard Desiree Oliver, who scored 14 points and had four turnovers in 32 minutes off the bench. “We like to get out in transition and push the ball, so I do think the press did play a big part in it.”

Even when the Owls beat the press, they had to go up against Penn’s long, defensive forwards, who caused problems when they tried to drive into the paint.

Penn held Temple to a 34.4 percent clip from the field. Freshman center Eleah Parker, who blocked three shots in Penn’s win against Villanova on Jan. 17, had a game-high three blocks to go with her 16 points.

Parker is 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and starting senior forward Michelle Nwokedi is 6 feet, 3 inches tall. Temple’s tallest starter, 6-foot-1-inch freshman forward Breanna Perry, only played one minute.

“I think their biggest thing is their length,” Cardoza said. “Tanaya, and [freshman forward] Mia [Davis] had a tough time in there because they’re trying to shoot over some really big kids that are just standing there waiting for you.”

The Owls will look to fix their turnover problem in their next game, a Sunday afternoon road contest against South Florida (15-5, 5-2 The American), which is No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Bulls beat Temple, 89-73, on Jan. 10 at McGonigle Hall.

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