Temple women’s basketball survives turnover ‘domino effect’

Hampton University scored more than half of its points off Temple’s 35 turnovers, but the Owls beat the Pirates, 65-56, on Thursday at McGonigle Hall.

Senior guard Tanaya Atkinson (left) dribbles while guarded by St. Joseph's senior forward Adashia Franklyn during the Owls' 69-66 win on Nov. 29 at McGonigle Hall. | LUKE SMITH / FILE PHOTO

With five minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the first quarter, the Owls inbounded the ball and turned it over six seconds later, leading to a basket for Hampton University.

The next play was almost identical. Hampton’s full-court press caused Temple to give away the ball four more times over the course of next two minutes.

“It’s a domino effect,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “One person, the next person, and then everybody’s turning it over, and you don’t have enough timeouts to continue to call them.”

Despite Temple’s 35 turnovers, the Owls (7-2) beat the Pirates, 65-56, at McGonigle Hall on Thursday night. Before Thursday, Temple averaged 15.9 turnovers per game. The Owls now average 18 per game.

“We’re lucky to escape with a win after turning the ball over as much as we turned it over today,” Cardoza said. “We’ve got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball, and when teams are pressing us, we’ve got to be confident in finding ways to get the ball up the floor.”

Hampton scored 38 of its points off turnovers. By the end of the first quarter, the Owls already had 12 turnovers. Nearly 75 percent of Hampton’s 23 first-quarter points were off turnovers.

“If we don’t turn the ball over, you don’t know what would’ve happened,” Cardoza said. “We gave them confidence by turning the ball over and allowing them to get easy buckets.”

At times, the Owls couldn’t bring the ball past the mid-court line and they were guarded by two or three Pirates as they tried to pass to an open teammate.

For senior guard Tanaya Atkinson, the pressure isn’t anything new, but it can be overwhelming for younger players with less experience. Freshmen combined for 89 of Temple’s 200 minutes, and freshman guard Emani Mayo played the full 40 minutes.

Sometimes, after a turnover or a Hampton run, Atkinson gathered her teammates and tried to remind them to stay calm.

“Just for us to stay composed and keep our heads because they were really good with the pressure they were giving us,” Atkinson said. “I got a little rattled, so I was just trying to calm us down a little bit.”

Despite the pressure, Mayo scored a career-high 19 points and also pulled in six rebounds. Atkinson added 25 points and 10 rebounds, extending her double-double streak to four games.

The Owls also faced a full-court press defense this season against Rutgers University on Nov. 13, when Temple lost, 84-67. In this game, Temple also had an above-average turnover number with 23.

“We’ve got to be better because teams are going to continue to press us if we turn the ball over like that,” Cardoza said.

The Owls will face Big 5 opponent Villanova on Saturday. Villanova is ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press Top 25. The Wildcats’ field-goal defense holds teams to 32.2 percent shooting, which ranks seventh in Division I. Villanova’s assist-to-turnover ratio is also in the top 20 of Division I teams.

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