‘Time to experience something different’

Senior Erica Covile has one last chance to make the NCAA Tournament.

Senior Erica Covile drives to the basket in the fourth quarter of the Owls’ 78-64 win against Central Florida on Feb. 29 at McGonigle Hall. | DANIEL RAINVILLE TTN

After losing to South Florida 64-46 in the American Athletic Conference semifinals on Sunday, Erica Covile began to think about the future.

The loss eliminated the 20-win Owls from the conference tournament, leaving their postseason fate at the mercy of the NCAA Tournament selection committee on March 14.

“I definitely think we can make it,” Covile said.  “I would love to get the experience. I just don’t want to be satisfied with making it, but I want to go far.”

Covile, a senior guard, leads the Owls with 223 rebounds in her final season with the program and is looking for her first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

Her closest chance to earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament came her freshman year.

Despite a 5-9 conference record, Temple defeated Xavier University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament before losing 66-55 to Fordham University in the semifinals.

In her sophomore season, Covile and the Owls finished with a 14-16 record and did not earn a tournament bid after losing to South Florida 72-44 in The American quarterfinals.

During Covile’s junior season, Temple competed in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, advancing to the semifinals, where the Owls lost 66-58 in overtime to West Virginia University.

“I think our team is definitely more hungry to make the tournament,” Covile said. “We made the WNIT last year and don’t want to settle for that because we did it already. It’s time to experience something new this season.”

As an underclassman, Covile heard stories about the NCAA Tournament from teammates like 2014 graduate Natasha Thames.

Thames played four seasons for the Owls and competed in the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011.

“To work hard as a team all season and making it to the postseason is an accomplishment in itself, an accomplishment I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Thames said. “[Underclassmen] loved hearing funny things that happened. As far as the tourney, we definitely talked about it and it was something that gave us motivation to want to experience it again or for those who would experience it for the first time.”

Temple last made the tournament in 2011 when Covile was in her junior year at John Glenn High School in Detroit.

After defeating Arizona State University 63-46 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the University of Notre Dame eliminated Temple with a 77-64 defeat in Tonya Cardoza’s third season as coach.

Now in her eighth season Cardoza said Covile, who is the fourth player in program history to reach 1,000 points, 750 rebounds and 150 steals in her career, will be missed next season.

“She is definitely one of the best players I have coached,” Cardoza said. “She is a very unselfish player who has played out of position the last two years and never complains about anything.”

This could be Cardoza’s fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, though it would mean more to Cardoza if she could share it with Covile.

“I think she deserves it,” Cardoza said. “For her to be able to make it after what she’s given us all four years, it be great to give it back to her.”

Connor Northrup can be reached at connor.northrup@temple.edu.

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