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.”

Free throw shooting an asset for women’s basketball

It doesn’t get talked about nearly enough but free throw shooting is a valuable factor in any team’s success (or lack thereof).

Temple, through all its ups and downs this season, has been fairly consistent in this department.

During the Atlantic 10 Conference season the Owls are shooting 73.2 percent from the stripe, converting 60 of their 82 attempts. That ranks fifth in the conference behind Fordham, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and St. Bonaventure.

Two Owls also grace the Top 15 in that category. Sophomore guard Tyonna Williams is third in the conference with 91.3 percent on 23 attempts while senior center Victoria Macaulay has converted 81.5 percent of her 27 freebies.

Macaulay’s numbers show just how much she’s improved in that department. Last season she made just 64 percent of her free throws during conference play and 67.7 percent overall.

Williams and Macaulay’s success in that department has been part of the reason their scoring numbers are as high as they are.

But while the duo has combined for 50 freebies this A-10 season, the team only has 82. That’s third lowest in the conference. Temple just doesn’t force teams to foul them.

With that kind of success at the line the team should figure out more ways to get fouled and convert those easy opportunities.

Jake Adams

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

Macaulay earns A-10 Co-Player of the Week honor

Senior center Victoria Macaulay notched her first Atlantic 10 Conference Co-Player of the Week award this season.

The Staten Island, NY native averaged 22.5 points and nine rebounds in the Owls (7-8, 1-0 in A-10) first two wins of 2013, helping to snap their six-game skid and kick off conference play on the right foot. Her 23-point, 12-rebound performance against St. Bonaventure was her seventh double-double this season.

Macaulay also has two Big 5 Player of the Week awards to her credit this season while sophomore guard Rateska Brown earned the A-10 award on Dec. 3.

St. Joe’s redshirt-senior center Chatilla van Grinsven was named the Co-Player of the Week after knocking down 24 points and grabbing 18 boards in the Hawks win over Richmond.

Looking ahead to Wednesday’s matchup against A-10 newcomer Virginia Commonwealth University, junior swing-woman Robyn Parks tallied her sixth double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 boards against Saint Louis.

The two will take the court at Liacouras at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in an early duel of two perceived A-10 MVP favorites.

-Jake Adams

Macaulay shining despite team’s record

Even if her team doesn’t have the record to show for it, senior center Victoria Macaulay is sure making a case for Atlantic 10 Conference Most Valuable Player.

The Owls’ lone senior ranks near the top in several categories in the conference just over a month into the season. She has 16.8 points (third in the A-10), 9.7 rebounds (fourth) and 2.1 blocks (third) per game, and is shooting 56.5 percent (first) all while playing 35.6 minutes (fourth).

The only players with comparable numbers are Virginia Commonwealth University’s senior swing-woman Robyn Parks and Butler’s junior forward Daress McClung.

Parks is averaging 18 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game while playing 34.6 minutes. But she’s shooting under 50 percent.

McClung is averaging 16.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.4 steals and 2.5 blocks per game. But she’s also shooting under 50 percent and doesn’t rank in the top-10 in minutes played like the other two candidates.

It’s too early to designate a clear favorite but Macaulay has to be up near the top, if not at the top.

-Jake Adams

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

Lady Owls look to get back on track at Auburn

The women’s basketball team has had 10 days to soak in their ugly loss against Kent State on Dec. 6. Today, the Owls will look to get back on track against Auburn, Temple’s second game of a six-game road swing.

The Owls were riding high off of their best win of the season against Syracuse before Kent State upset them 71-62. Kent State was previously 0-7 before the win, with their lowest margin of defeat still coming at 14 points. The difference in the game came at the free throw line, where Temple went 7-for-9 and Kent State went 24-for-29.

Temple will face a tougher task today in Auburn (7-2). The Lady Tigers have three players averaging double figures. Sophomore guard Hasina Muhammad leads the team in scoring with 16.4 points per game. Junior guard Tyrese Tanner averages 12.4 and senior forward Blanche Alverson, a three-point specialist, averages 11.8. Auburn is 3-0 at home this season.

Senior center Victoria Macaulay is coming off a 25-point, 13-rebound performance against Kent State, recording her fifth double-double in a losing effort.

The Owls, 5-3, will look to get back on track today at 3 p.m. against Auburn.

Tyler Sablich

Rebounds make for early success

Part of the the women’s basketball team’s success on the defensive end this season can be traced back to one simple thing: rebounds.

Temple is holding opponents to just .340 shooting in their first eight games and 57.8 points per game. Those are respectable numbers for a team that returned just two starters from last season.

The reason behind this has been rebounds. The Owls average 42.6 boards per game while holding opponents to just 35.3. In all but one game, in a loss to Nebraska early in the season, they have won the rebound battle. On the offensive glass they hold just a four-rebound margin, 110-106.

But on the defensive end is where they’ve had the most success, snagging 231 rebounds against 176 by their opponents. That’s a 55-rebound difference, or 6.9 per game.

Senior center Victoria Macaulay is the driving force behind this, averaging 10.1 rebounds per game, with 7.5 of those coming on the defensive end. But the rest of the team has chipped in as well. Five other Owls have at least 20 defensive boards, and three of them average at least four rebounds per game.

Crashing the boards, especially on defense, has limited opponents opportunities and kept their offenses in check. It’s a big reason why such a young squad is 5-3 to start the season.

-Jake Adams

Thames, guards remain fluid

The women’s basketball team (5-3) is 0-1 this season without redshirt-junior forward Natasha Thames in the lineup.

The unheralded frontcourt partner of senior center Victoria Macaulay missed her first game of the season with a mild concussion, in Temple’s 71-62 loss to Kent State on Dec. 6. Freshman forward Meghan Roxas made her first collegiate start of her career.

Roxas scored just four points, shooting 1-for-17 while grabbing four rebounds in 20 minutes of work. She also turned the ball over twice in that time.

Coach Tonya Cardoza also replaced freshman guard Erica Covile with fellow freshman guard May Dayan in the starting lineup. Cardoza previously made a switch to Covile after five games to try and get a more physical presence on the court.

Thames is cleared to play Sunday against Auburn (7-2), but the guard situation remains fluid in the early goings of the season.

-Jake Adams

Three-point shooting key in tonight’s match-up

The women’s basketball team’s loss to Nebraska on Sunday, Nov. 11, ended a big run for the Owls. Prior to the contest Temple had made at least one trey in 100 consecutive games.

While in previous seasons the Owls thrived off three-point shooting, connecting on 31.8 percent from down town last season, this year’s squad isn’t built for long distance shooting.

The team right now has been out shot 52-17 from beyond the arc. Temple has connected on just four of those 17 attempts, shooting 23.5 percent. And only two players are responsible for those connections, sophomore guard Rateska Brown (2-for-5) and freshman guard May Dayan (2-for-4).

In two games Seton Hall, who the Owls host on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Liacouras Center, Temple has allowed their opponents to shoot 10-for-34 from down town.

While Temple relies heavily on getting the ball to senior center Victoria Macaulay, the Owls may need to find a way to open up their long-range attack to hand the Pirates their first loss of the season.

-Jake Adams