The women’s basketball team has more to look forward to during winter break than visiting family and enjoying time off, as the Owls have a full slate of games during the holiday season.
Senior guard Qwedia Wallace will look to lead a squad fresh off two wins over Rutgers and Auburn, which evened the team’s record to 4-4. Wallace leads a three-headed attack that includes junior forward Kristen McCarthy and junior guard Shey Peddy. The trio has combined for 39 points per game as well as 12 rebounds and eight assists per game. If the Owls are to continue their current success during winter break they will need the same production from their core players.
Coach Tonya Cardoza’s team kicks off the holidays with a matchup at home against Hartford on Friday, a week before break begins.
Hartford has struggled this season with a record of 1-7 and 0-3 on the road. The team’s offense has been almost nonexistent, as the Hawks shoot 34 percent from the field and have been held under 50 points three times this season.
Wallace and company will then hit the road for a big game against cross-town rival Villanova. The Wildcats are currently 5 and 3 coming off a low-scoring affair against West Virginia, which the team won, 30-29. Junior forward/guard Lindsay Kimmel, a former Temple Owl who transferred to Villanova two seasons ago, leads the team with more than 10 points a game. Villanova will be coming off another Big 5 matchup against St. Joseph’s before it hosts Temple on Dec. 19.
Temple travels to Michigan two days later to take on Eastern Michigan (5-3) in its last game before Christmas. Junior guard Tavelyn James leads EMU and averages a shade less than 18 points a game while shooting 73 percent from the free-throw line. She is joined by senior guard Sydney Huntley, who is averaging almost 12 points a game on 40 percent shooting and 82 percent from the line.
The Owls then visit the Duke Blue Devils on Dec. 30 in what is sure to be one of the team’s toughest games of the season. Duke is ranked fifth in the nation and is led by a talented duo in senior guard Jasmine Thomas and senior forward Karima Christmas. Thomas averages 15 points a game and leads the team with 32 assists so far this season, while Christmas is scoring 11 points per game.
The Blue Devils also have a talented supporting cast led by senior center Kristal Thomas’ 8.8 rebounds per game. Kristal Thomas, at 6 feet, 5 inches, will prove to be a major challenge for the Owls in the post.
The Owls then kick off Atlantic Ten Conference play at Charlotte on Jan. 7 before heading back home to host Rhode Island Jan. 12. These games will be crucial markers coming off a tough Duke game as they set their sights on winning the A-10.
The Charlotte 49ers are led by senior guard Shannon McCallum’s 13.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. The 49ers will be coming off a game against Virginia Tech before hosting the Owls.
Rhode Island (4-4) is led by sharp-shooting Megan Shoniker. The senior guard leads the team with 18 points on 43 percent shooting, including 33 percent from three-point territory. Shoniker has also posted 30 assists this season and 4.8 rebounds per game.
The Owls, who are seeking their first A-10 title under Cardoza, will need to come away with at least three or four victories during the holiday stretch if they hope to position themselves to compete in the conference.
Wallace will need to continue to produce as the team waits for McCarthy to regain her composure after a slow start to the season. The Owls also need to find a consistent presence in the post, especially on the defensive end if they hope to match up and compete with bigger teams, such as Duke.
Jake Adams can be reached at email@example.com.