The team earned three Atlantic Ten Conference wins over the past week.
After wins against Duquesne, St. Bonaventure and La Salle in a little more than a week, the women’s basketball team has improved its record to 19-6 and 10-0 in the Atlantic Ten Conference.
The three wins pushed the Owls’ winning streak to 12 games, which is their longest since the 2006-2007 season. Each win is becoming increasingly difficult as the level of competition continues to improve leading up to the season finale against No. 7 Xavier. Temple has become the clear challenger to Xavier during its streak, and opposing teams have now set their sights on knocking the team down.
“We have to know that we have a big target on our back and come to play because we’re going to get everyone’s best shot every night,” junior forward Kristen McCarthy said after the win over La Salle.
The Owls beat the Dukes on Feb. 5, 61-52, the lowest margin of victory for the Owls during their streak since their 62-55 victory over Big 5 rival, Penn. Duquesne came into the game third in the A-10 at 6-1 and was trying to steal the second seed away from the Owls.
Both teams struggled to find the basket, as Temple shot 33.8 percent from the field and Duquesne shot 35.6 percent. The game started out slow and never picked up much steam as both offenses had their share of cold streaks.
Duquesne took an early lead when the Owls opened up flat, but the Dukes couldn’t maintain it. Temple went into the half up 25-20, but it wasn’t a comfortable lead. After going up by eight off on the first possession, the Dukes charged back with a 9-0 run to take the lead. McCarthy would reclaim the lead for the Owls on a layup and the game remained close for much of the second half.
While the scoring did pick up in the second half, it was tough for both teams to find a consistent advantage and take control of the game. The Owls went up by as many as 12 late in the game because of foul shots and eventually closed it out.
Junior guard Shey Peddy scored a season-high 26 points and added nine rebounds. She was the only Owl to make more than one three-pointer as the team shot 31.3 percent from long range. The Owls out rebounded the Dukes, which helped them win the battle, 43-34, and points in the paint where they managed to score 28 points.
The team then traveled to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday in what turned out to be an even tougher game. The teams went into the first half with the Owls up 21-14, and the scoring didn’t pick up drastically in the second half as Temple came away with its ninth road victory, 54-38.
While the Owls shot 41.1 percent from the field and held the Bonnies to just 27.3 percent, both teams struggled to sink shots consistently. Senior guard Qwedia Wallace and McCarthy led the Owls with 13 and 12 points, respectively. St. Bonaventure didn’t produce a double-digit scorer.
Temple struggled from three-point territory again with just a four-of-23 performance but won the game in the paint, where it outscored its opponent 30-14.
The sledding didn’t get easier for Temple at home against La Salle on Feb. 12. The Owls found themselves in an unfamiliar situation, down at the half 30-31. La Salle exposed a potentially huge weakness in Temple’s offense, an inability to score against the full-court press.
The Explorers used that tactic for much of the game, until Ashley Gale, their star senior guard, reached four fouls halfway through the second half, and the Owls were able to capitalize and retake the lead before winning, 72-63.
The Owls let up 22 points to Gale – something they can’t afford to happen the rest of the season.
“We can’t have setbacks, and today was definitely a setback for us on the defensive end,” coach Tonya Cardoza said.
Even though the Owls came away with three more wins under their belt, it’s becoming apparent they are in a special situation. A-10 teams have set their sights on knocking down the Owls.
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com.