It took five turnovers in a three-minute span in the first half to change the course of the women’s basketball game against Rutgers (2-1) Wednesday at McGonigle Hall.
With 15 minutes, 30 seconds left in the half senior center Victoria Macaulay turned the ball over, leading to an easy jumper by Rutgers’ sophomore guard Shakena Richardson.
During the next three minutes, freshman guard May Dayan turned the ball over twice, sophomore guard Tyonna Williams coughed it up once and Macaulay gave it away once more. In that time the score swung from 5-2 in favor of the Owls (3-2) to 9-5 for the Scarlet Knights. Temple couldn’t recover, and lost 66-50.
“We talked about the keys to the game and one of the most important things was making sure that we took care of the ball,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “And obviously we didn’t do that.”
Temple committed a whopping 24 turnovers, but that isn’t even their season high. Against Northeastern on Nov. 17, the Owls gave away 29 freebies.
“To be honest it’s not one person, it’s everyone,” Cardoza said. “We’re all turning it over.”
Temple’s 5-2 lead was their largest of the game, and when senior forward Chelsey Lee made the and-1 Rutgers never looked back. In a 12-minute span the Owls knocked down one basket, a layup by Williams.
Meanwhile the Scarlet Knights built their lead up to 18. The teams went into the locker rooms at half with Temple trailing 31-14 in arguably the worst half of their season. Rutgers converted 14 of the Owls’ turnovers in the first half into 20 points.
“Like coach said it was a lot of unforced turnovers,” sophomore guard Rateska Brown said. “We just threw it out-of-bounds when nobody was even pressing us.”
Brown was one of the few bright spots in the loss, knocking down 12 points and grabbing five boards off the bench. Williams, despite her seven turnovers, managed to shoot 6-for-13 for 15 points and dish out four assists.
But Macaulay was largely quiet for the second time this season. She shot 25 percent from the field, tallying six points and pulling in six rebounds. Her two teammates in the post, redshirt-junior forward Natasha Thames and freshman forward Sally Kabengano, combined for eight points and 14 boards.
“If [Macaulay’s not scoring the basketball it’s going to be hard for us to win basketball games,” Cardoza said. “I thought that she started forcing things and she probably got frustrated with herself and frustrated that we were down, and usually when that happens you’re taking yourself out of the basketball game.”
The second half proved much better for Temple, outscoring their New Jersey rival 36-35, but the damage was done far too early. The closest they would get in the second half was 14.
The Owls now have a week to figure out how to stop giving up the ball so frequently before they face Bowling Green on Nov. 28. It’s their first of seven road contests over the next eight games.
Once they have their Thanksgiving meals the team plans to be back in the gym trying to correct their mistakes.
“Get in the gym,” Williams said. “You get better. This is upsetting.”
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jakeadams520.