Coach Tonya Cardoza is wondering when her team will be hit with a wake-up call.
The Owls (3–2) are averaging 24 turnovers per game through their first five games, a statistic that hindered them once again in a 66–50 loss to Rutgers (2–1) on Nov. 21.
“I’m hoping that it burns inside of them, so that they start valuing the basketball,” Cardoza said. “Because it’s not going to matter who we play against. We could play against a high school team, and if we’re turning over the basketball we will lose the game.”
Rutgers scored 29 of its points of Temple turnovers. To put matters into an uglier perspective, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer was without her most productive player, senior center Monique Oliver. Oliver came into the game averaging 13 points and eight rebounds but was sidelined due to an injury.
Temple senior center Victoria Macaulay struggled even with Oliver out of the lineup. She shot 2-for-8 from the floor, recording six points and six rebounds while turning the ball over four times. In the Owls’ three wins this season, Macaulay averaged 21 points and 13 rebounds per game. In the team’s two losses, she averages six points and six rebounds.
Temple’s starting point guard, sophomore Tyonna Williams, took responsibility for the team’s turnover woes. Despite scoring a season-high 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting against Rutgers, she committed a game-high seven turnovers and is averaging five turnovers per game.
“It falls on me,” Williams said. “Until I get better, it’s going to keep happening. I have to get in the gym even more, I have to change the way I’m playing.”
However, Cardoza said she isn’t pointing the finger at one individual player. When asked if she would consider a lineup adjustment to help remedy her team’s sloppy play, she said it wouldn’t make a difference until the team as a whole begins to value the ball.
“We’re all turning it over, guards and post players,” Cardoza said. “The thing is, most of the time we’re playing pretty good defense and we’re getting really good stops. But if you’re getting stops and then going down the other end and turning the basketball over, it defeats the purpose.”
Amidst the turnover epidemic, the Owls will now shift their focus to the road match-up against Bowling Green on Nov. 28.
“I saw them play [Nov. 19] against Purdue,” Cardoza said. “I don’t know a lot about them. But I do know that it doesn’t matter what [Bowling Green] does, because if we turn the ball over, we’re not going to win.”
Coached by Jennifer Roos, Bowling Green (3–2) went 24–7 overall and 14–2 in MAC play last season. The team is led by senior guard Chrissy Steffen, who is averaging 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. The Falcons also present a strong front court, consisting of redshirt-senior center Danielle Havel, who averages 10 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, and redshirt-junior power forward Alexis Rogers, averaging six points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
As for the Owls, Cardoza said the team did not participate in a Thanksgiving tournament due to scheduling conflicts.
Williams, distraught over her own play, said she spent her week-long break just trying to get better.
“[The Rutgers game] was upsetting,” Williams said. “That was a game we should have won. I know the days off that I have, I’ll be in the gym and I’m hoping my teammates will be in the gym. We have to find it inside of ourselves, we have to want to get better.”
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich.