It took just 12 seconds for the women’s basketball team to fall behind to Kent State, and another 19 seconds to make sure it was the only time that would happen.
After a quick layup by Golden Flashes’ junior forward Diamon Beckford to start the game the Owls answered with a dismantling 15-0 run and never looked back. Thanks to a defense that seemed to be two steps ahead of Kent State all game long Temple walked away with a comfortable 68-33 victory at home on Tuesday.
Junior forward Natasha Thames missed the game due to an injury she sustained in the Owls previous game against Auburn. Thames will sit out for the remainder of the year and the specific injury was unreleased.
“I thought that was one of the best defensive games we played this year,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I thought we did a really good job of getting out and pressuring their passers, getting in the passing lanes, and making things difficult for them.”
Kent State didn’t score their second basket until freshman guard Itziar Llobet drained a three halfway through the first half. After getting the score to 19-10 off a trey by Beckford the Owls went on another 11-0 run, with senior guard Shey Peddy tacking on six of 13 points during the stretch.
“I felt pretty good,” Peddy said. “My shot wasn’t falling so I tried to make up for it on defense and do all the little things.”
Peddy was all over the floor for the Owls in a game that the home team led by as many as 37. She recorded another four steals, bringing her total to 26 on the season. But she was outshined in that department by a surprising six steals by senior guard BJ Williams.
“It’s okay,” Peddy said with a smile. “She’s entitled to one game.”
Peddy at times seemed like she was trying to play center, recording multiple rebounds under the basket in traffic. She finished the game with a season-high seven rebounds, two behind junior center Victoria Macaulay on the night.
As a whole, Owls dominated in nearly every category, especially on defense. Temple controlled the paint with 52 rebounds compared to 24 by the Golden Flashes and forced 24 turnovers. Kent State was also held to a dismal 28.3-percent shooting.
“I thought for the most part we understood what they were going to be running and we had to be in position to make sure that we help out,” Cardoza said. “And I definitely thought that we did a good job of clogging the lane.”
Temple got tremendous help from second-chance points—22 compared to Kent State’s five—and outscored the Golden Flashes in the paint 40-12.
Junior forward Brittany Lewis led the game with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and tacked on five rebounds. She’s quietly become the Owls third leading scorer averaging 8.33 points per game.
“I think [Williams and Peddy] do a good job of finding the open person and tonight that’s what it was,” Lewis said.
Senior guard Kristen McCarthy recorded another 13 points on the night, boosting her career total to 1,310 and 23 points shy of fifth in school history.
The win is the Owls’ second straight. The team is in the middle of a roller-coaster season, having bookended a five-game road losing streak with two consecutive wins.
“I feel our confidence is way higher than it was last month,” Peddy said. “Hopefully we don’t go back to how we played last month.”
In Temple’s four wins this season they have held their opponents to 46 points a game and outscored them by an average of 22.75 points. In contrast, the Owls allowed 65.8 points per game and lost by 8.8 points on average.
The team hopes to continue their winning streak during winter break when they face UCLA (Dec. 20), Villanova (Dec. 22) and No. 7 Duke (Dec. 30) at home. The two weeks off comes at a rough time for an Owls team that feels like they’ve just found their groove heading into three challenging matchups.
“Now I think these guys are getting more confidence and understanding exactly what we need to do to win basketball games,” Cardoza said. “It just stinks that we have to go to break now.”
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com.