LOWELL, MA — The women’s basketball team out-shot St. Bonaventure in a 75-56 victory in its first game of the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament.
The Owls made a blistering 51.8 percent of their shots, including nine of 19 from three-point land. And the story again for the squad was the play by the Big 3 of junior guard Shey Peddy, junior forward Kristen McCarthy and senior guard Qwedia Wallace who combined for 64 points on the night. Wallace’s 27 and Peddy’s 21 made it the second straight game that two Owls scored at least 20 points.
“I just said that to them in the locker room that this was the first game that all three guys have played really well,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I mean, there’s times when they’ve scored but they all shot a high percentage. And that’s what you need, you need your best players to step up, especially this time of year.”
The Owls opened up with two quick points from Wallace and never relinquished the lead. All three of Temple’s main contributors were over ten points by halftime, as they went to the locker rooms up 43-34.
It was a different feel compared to the last game between these two where both defenses stood tall.
“It was definitely unlike our first game against them where it was in the 20’s at the half,” Cardoza said. “At the half, that’s what we talked about, making sure we slow them down and contain them a little bit better.”
Temple did just that in the second half, limiting the Bonnies to 22 points on eight of 21 shooting. The one knock on the game for the Owls was team defense, as they allowed 42.2 percent shooting thanks to an aggressive offense by St. Bonaventure. Junior forward Megan Van Tatenhove scored 14 and junior guard Armelia Horton chipped in 13 off the bench.
“[We] didn’t do a good job, a good enough job, a job that I would have liked to see,” Cardoza said. “But when it mattered, that’s when they really did step up and shut people down.”
“I really have to give a lot of credit to Temple,” St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowly added. “I’m not disappointed with how we played and I would tell you if I was. I thought we played hard. I thought we kept coming at them.”
The Owls were red-hot on the night. Wallace, McCarthy and Peddy each shot at least 50 percent, including a combined eight of 13 from downtown. The trio only missed 12 of their 36 shots with just one by Peddy.
“I felt pretty good, even in shoot-around,” Peddy said. “I know I just wanted to come out and keep shooting when I was open or just drive and I felt like my shots were falling for me.”
“I just wanted to go out and play well for my team so we can keep playing and go as far as we can in the tournament,” Wallace added.
The trio also added seven steals as a whole. Senior forward Marli Bennett and sophomore forward Natasha Thames lead the game with 10 and eight rebounds, respectively. But Coach Crowley was quick to point out a different aspect of the Temple game that has gone unnoticed this year.
“I think the most underrated thing about them, and the thing they showed really, really well tonight, is their execution and their passing,” Crowley said. “They really share the ball well and they pass it exceptionally well… They have four guards who can find the open person at the right time, at the right place, and that’s really, really hard to defend.”
The Owls will take on Dayton in the semi-finals tomorrow, but have to pick up their defense in order to take the next step. Cardoza knows the team can’t afford to let opponents shoot 40 percent from the field.
“That’s the most important thing, how we defend,” Cardoza said. “Because that’s what got us here, is our defense, and that’s what’s going to continue to win games, is our defense.”
Regardless the Owls know they are a top team in the tournament and are confident in their game.
“We feel like we’re one of the top teams and we feel like, looking at that Xavier loss, that we’re better than that,” Wallace said. “And in this tournament we just want to show how good we are.”
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com.