Owls make WNIT tournament

The women’s basketball team was included among the 64-team field selected for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, which was announced Monday night.

The team’s inclusion in the tournament marks the first time it will take part in postseason play since the 2011-12 season.

Temple needed to win five of its last six games of the regular season in order to guarantee itself a .500 record and become qualified for postseason play.

The Owls’ first-round loss in the American Athletic Conference tournament put some anxiety in the team as a win over the Pirates would have put them in a more favorable postseason situation.

Sitting at a 16-16 overall record, the team was unsure if it would receive an invite to the WNIT.

The last time the team reached postseason play was in Williams’ freshman year when it also played in the WNIT. The Owls, then in the Atlantic 10 conference, finished with a 23-10 record that season.

They advanced two rounds in the tournament with wins over Quinnipiac University and Harvard University before losing to Syracuse University.

Sophomore forward dismissed

According to athletic communications, sophomore forward Jacquilyn Jackson has been dismissed from the team due to repeated violation of team rules.

Athletic communications and coach Tonya Cardoza would not disclose the nature of Jackson’s violation, but earlier in the season, Jackson had also served a suspension for another undisclosed violation of team rules. Athletic communications did not confirm if the incidents were related.

Jackson returned from suspension and played ten minutes against St. Joseph’s for her only playing time of the 2013-14 season. Since the game against St. Joe’s, Jackson did not see playing time against the next four opponents. Jackson did not travel to the Owls’ American Athletic Conference opener against Memphis and was not present for home games against Louisville and Central Florida.

Last season, Jackson saw action in 23 games as a contributor from the bench.

Women’s basketball schedule released

The full schedule for women’s basketball was released today for the 2013-14 season.

Entering its first year in the American Athletic Conference, Temple faces road and away matchups against each conference opponent: Memphis, Louisville, UCF, USF, Connecticut, SMU, Cincinnati, Houston and Rutgers. Two of those teams, Connecticut and Louisville, played in the national championship last year. Other notable matchups include a game against Villanova on Dec. 19 and a game against Penn on Jan. 22.

The season opener will be at La Salle on Nov. 8 at the Tom Gola Arena.

“We are so excited to play in the American Athletic Conference and to usher in this new era of women’s basketball,” Temple head coach Tonya Cardoza said in a press release. “Obviously, this is the most challenging schedule in the history of the program. We are excited to bring outstanding competition to Philadelphia, and we can’t wait to take the court. Our fans will see some great games.”

The 2014 American Athletic Conference Championship will be held March 7-10 in Uncasville, Conn.

Women’s basketball to face No. 3 Fordham in A-10 semis

Heading into tomorrow’s semifinal round match-up, No. 3 seed Fordham will look to avoid becoming Temple’s latest upset in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament.

The Rams (23-7, 12-2 A-10) advanced following a blowout 65-48 win against No. 11 Saint Louis, just a couple hours after the Owls (13-17, 5-9 A-10) upset No. 2 Charlotte, 48-47.

“I’m trying to not get too excited [over the Saint Louis win] because we have to play a really good Temple team,” Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley said. “We have a very difficult 40 minutes ahead of us against a well-coached and a really strong Temple team.”

Ironically, these teams met just last Sunday, March 3 in what was the regular season finale for both sides. Fordham came out on top at McGonigle Hall, 58-44.

Fordham presented a balanced scoring attack with four players finishing in double figures. Redshirt-junior guard Erin Rooney led the way with 15 points, followed by grad student forward Marah Strickland with 14, freshman forward Samantha Clark with 11, and junior guard Abigail Corning with 10.

“We played very well to beat Temple on their court,” Gaitley said. “But again, they beat a really good Charlotte team.”

Temple senior center Victoria Macaulay and freshman forward Sally Kabengano combined for 28 of the Owls’ 44 points in last week’s loss to the Rams.

Things have perked up for the Owls since then, however. Coach Tonya Cardoza’s squad has proved itself worthy of Gaitley’s praise, as Temple has knocked off No. 7 seed Xavier and a Charlotte (24-5, 13-1 A-10) team that breezed through the A-10 during the regular season.

Gaitley said Fordham tries to not put too much thought into who it’s opposing, a strategy that has worked just fine thus far into the season.

“We made a point all year to have a blank uniform in front of us,” Gaitley said. “Right now the focus is just getting some rest, breaking down film, getting comfortable with things, and getting ready for a tough 40 minutes.”

Horton no longer with women’s basketball

Freshman forward Leah Horton has been told she won’t be rejoining the women’s basketball team this season, coach Tonya Cardoza confirmed Wednesday.

Cardoza said Horton’s conditioning and lackadaisical work ethic are the primary reasons why she will no longer be practicing or traveling with the Owls for the foreseeable future.

Horton played in three games this season, a transition year for the Owls in which five other freshmen have seen significant playing time. Horton last played on Dec. 6 against Kent State. She played a career high 18 minutes against Seton Hall on Nov. 14, recording three points and five rebounds.

While she is no longer welcome back this season, Cardoza said she has not ruled out the possibility of Horton returning to the team next fall.

Tyler Sablich

Women’s basketball faces tough road test at Duquesne

Coming off a heart-breaking two-point loss to VCU in its Atlantic10 Conference home opener, the women’s basketball team has traveled to Pittsburgh for an afternoon match-up today against Duquesne.

The Owls (7-9), finally putting a six-game losing streak behind them, played very well in the two games leading up to their bout with VCU, beating Western Michigan 68-41 and St. Bonaventure 67-59 to win back-to-back games for the first time all season.

However, the short-lived winning streak was put to an end when senior center Victoria Macaulay failed to send the game into overtime after missing freshman forward Sally Kabengano’s put-back as time expired. It was a loss that coach Tonya Cardoza called “tough to swallow.”

Things will not get easier for the Owls, as Duquesne will enter the game 13-3 overall and 2-0 in A-10 play. The Dukes are also 7-1 at home. Today will mark each team’s third in-conference game.

Duquesne presents a well balanced offense, beginning with junior forward Wumi Agunbiade, who is averaging 13 points and eight rebounds per game. Freshman guard April Robinson averages ten points per game, while senior guard Jocelyn Floyd does a little bit of everything for the Dukes. Floyd averages nine points per game, leads the team with a .496 field goal percentage, is second on the team in rebounding averaging seven boards per game, is first on the team in assists averaging almost three per game, and is first in steals with 84 total.

Temple, which is just 2-7 on the road, will look to sophomore guard Rateska Brown for another strong shooting performance, coming off a career-high 22 points in the loss to VCU. Sophomore point guard Tyonna Williams, who had issues protecting the basketball throughout much of the season, has just three turnovers the last three games. Macaulay going up against Agunbiade in the paint, two very capable centers, will be a match-up that may determine the outcome of the game.

Temple at Duquesne will tip-off at 2 p.m. in Pittsburgh, Pa.

-Tyler Sablich

Women’s basketball faces Georgetown in nation’s capital

Exactly one month ago to the day, the women’s basketball team upset a previously unbeaten Syracuse team at McGonigle Hall. Since then the Owls have lost four straight.

Temple’s latest defeat came at the hands of Michigan State on Saturday. They’ll look to end their worst losing streak of the season tonight against Georgetown, in what will be their fifth game of a six-game road swing.

Georgetown enters tonight at 8-4 and is coming off a 90-67 dismantling of Yale. The Hoyas’ most impressive win thus far is a 62-56 knock off of then nationally-ranked Delaware.

Senior guard Sugar Rodgers recently became the all-time scoring leader in program history at Georgetown, becoming the first ever to reach the 2,000-point plateau. Rodgers leads the Hoyas in scoring with 26 points per game and rebounding with 7 boards per game.

Temple senior center Victoria Macaulay is coming off her sixth double-double of the season after scoring 12 points and grabbing ten rebounds in the loss to Michigan State. Sophomore point guard Tyonna Williams has struggled the last two games, shooting a combined 2-for-21 from the field while committing eight turnovers.

Freshman guard Erica Covile, who at one point took over as the starting two-guard, has since seen her playing time steadily diminish. Covile has played just a total of five minutes the last two games. Freshman guard Meghan Roxas has consumed most of the playing time in the midst of Covile’s struggles. Roxas played 20 minutes against the Spartans, going 3-for-6 from three-point range for nine points.

Given their youth, turnovers and inconsistencies have plagued the Owls. As a result, coach Tonya Cardoza has been forced to experiment with different lineups in pursuit of a shooting guard that can start and provide significant minutes night-in and night-out. Temple’s back court will face another obstacle tonight in trying to contain Rodgers.

Temple vs. Georgetown will tip-off tonight at 7 p.m. in Washington D.C.

-Tyler Sablich

Women’s basketball season begins at McGonigle

The women’s basketball team kicks off the 2012-13 season in the friendly confines of McGonigle Hall when the Owls host Montana on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The Grizzlies finished 16-14 last season, and 9-7 in the Big Sky Conference. The Owls finished 23-10 and 13-1 in the Atlantic 10 Conference before falling in the conference semifinals to eventual champion Dayton.

Temple returns standout senior center Victoria Macaulay and redshirt junior forward Natasha Thames. The rest of the team, however, is sophomores and freshmen.

The projected starting lineup for Friday’s game is sophomore Tyonna Williams at the point, freshman May Dayan at shooting guard, freshman forward Sally Kabengano at the three, and Thames and Macaulay.

Cardoza likely won’t decide for sure until Friday shoot-around.

-Jake Adams