The women’s basketball team lost its third game in a row tonight at the hands of Big 5 rival Villanova.
The Wildcats turned the ball over a stunning four times in route to their eight straight win, defeating the Owls 55-44. Villanova got off to a hot 12-0 start in the game and never looked back. A defensive minded team, the Wildcats never trailed in the game.
Coach Tonya Cardoza realizes the Wildcats’ quick start dug the Owls a steep hole to climb out of.
“[Villanova] was really hot and we didn’t defend as well as we should have,” Cardoza said. “We got ourselves back in the game and started playing some really good defense, but then late down the stretch we fell asleep on a couple of assignments.”
Temple was able to rip off a 7-2 run heading into halftime, trailing 32-22. Their ability to climb back into the game was a result of a newfound defensive urgency, according to Cardoza.
“When we did a good job of communicating and sticking to our assignments, I thought [Villanova] had a difficult time scoring,” Cardoza said.
The Owls showed resilience again to start off the second half, going on a 7-0 run and cutting Villanova’s lead down to five. However, Cardoza said the Wildcats wore her squad down. Villanova ultimately went on an 11-0 run to close out Temple and secure their eighth straight win.
“You’re not gonna play a team like Villanova everyday,” Cardoza said. “They’re gonna make you play defense all 30 seconds and all five guys are gonna be moving. No other team really plays like that other than Princeton and Yale, and they’re not on our schedule.”
Neither side shot the ball particularly well. Temple shot 33 percent from the field while Villanova shot 35 percent. It was Villanova’s ability to protect the basketball that produced a victory for the Wildcats, committing just four turnovers compared to Temple’s 15. The Owls averaged 23 turnovers coming into the night while Villanova averaged 12.
Temple senior center Victoria Macaulay notched 17 points and seven rebounds in a losing effort, falling three rebounds away from her sixth double-double of the season. Redshirt-junior power forward Natasha Thames added nine points and nine rebounds as she continues to recover from a concussion. Sophomore point guard Tyonna Williams played all 40 minutes but failed to score a point on 0-for-7 shooting. Williams also committed a game-high four turnovers.
Villanova senior guard Rachel Roberts led the team with 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting. The Wildcats do not present a particularly strong offensive attack, but their low turnover rate and stingy defense have resulted in a 9-1 record.
The Owls have now dropped three straight games and have fallen back to .500 at 5-5 and 0-1 in Big 5 play. Their six-game road trip will continue on Sat. 29 in East Lansing against Michigan State.
Tyler Sablich can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TySablich.