It was a night of firsts for the women’s basketball team Friday.
The first collegiate minutes for two freshmen, the first ever game for junior LaKeisha Eaddy at point guard, the first game as coach for Tonya Cardoza.
But none of those firsts was as important as this one: the first win of the season, a 70-55 victory over visiting Bowling Green.
“I’m going to enjoy this [win] for the next two days,” Cardoza said. “Because it’s the first one, I’m sure tonight when I go to bed, I’m just going to be replaying a lot of things and figuring out ‘Maybe I should’ve done this, maybe I should’ve done that,’ things like that. But I’m sure I won’t be able to rest tonight.”
Cardoza’s team never trailed in the game, jumping out to a 7-0 lead before Bowling Green even scored its first points at the 13:38 mark.
The defensive presence former coach Dawn Staley preached was still there, as the Falcons only scored 18 points in the first half thanks to six blocks and eight steals by the Owls.
But whether it was nerves or just plain rust, Temple only mustered 28 points of its own in those first 20 minutes.
“At shootaround, you could totally tell that they were nervous, too,” Cardoza said. “And I told them, you would be crazy not to be nervous. So, I definitely think so [that nerves affected the first half]. We got a lot of easy shots at the basket we just were missing. Shanea [Cotton] and Shenita [Landry] had really good looks down there, and I just told them in the second half, just take your time because we’re still going to go into you guys.”
That chore fell to Eaddy, who, like her coach, was making her own debut. Outside of practices and scrimmages over the past month, she’d never played a minute at point guard.
In her first game at the position, she finished with a game-high 16 points to go with four steals, two assists and three turnovers.
It was that last ratio that bothered her the most after the game.
“I have to get better at all areas of the point guard because I’m not great at anything,” she said.
Cardoza, though, wasn’t nearly as hard on her rookie point guard.
“It’s a tough situation that Keisha’s put in, but she’s accepted the role,” Cardoza said. “I told her, ‘If I didn’t think you were able to do it, I wouldn’t put you in that position.’ And I think she did a great job tonight. I’m sure there’s going to be times where she’s going to struggle, but I think we’re going to be behind her.”
When Eaddy went out with two fouls for a six-minute span in the first half, it was freshman BJ Williams, rather than sophomore guard Shaqwedia Wallace, who replaced her.
Williams, along with freshman forward Kristen McCarthy, both saw significant minutes for first-year players, especially considering it was only the first game of the season.
“Kristen came in and helped. I don’t how many minutes she played, but I’m sure she probably should’ve played more, as well as BJ,” Cardoza said. “But those guys are definitely going to help us, and we need that bench production.”
McCarthy and Williams finished their first games with a combined total of four points, four assists and two turnovers in 26 minutes of action.
“I just prepare whenever Coach puts me in to go in and play hard. As a freshman, I’m happy with any minutes that I get,” McCarthy said.
And after 40 minutes, senior forward Shenita Landry summed up the night in one simple sentence, quietly uttered after the postgame press conference.
“Congrats, Coach, on your first win.”
Jennifer Reardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.