From the first basket against Delaware State University, Temple’s game plan was clear.
Get the ball inside.
Graduate transfer guard Mykia Jones scored the first points of the game on a fastbreak lay-up after senior guard Tanaya Atkinson grabbed a defensive rebound and passed the ball up the floor. On the next offensive possession, Atkinson was able to set up on the low block and easily score a lay-up in the post. After the Owls got a defensive stop, freshman guard Breanna Perry passed into the post for freshman forward Mia Davis, who scored in the paint.
Twelve of Temple’s first 14 points came in the paint as the Owls (1-0) beat Delaware State, 96-72, in their first game of the season on Friday at McGonigle Hall. The Owls played four guards in the starting lineup, however, the team dominated down low.
Jones, Perry, Atkinson, Davis and senior guard Khadijah Berger were the first five on the floor for Temple. Davis was the only forward in the starting lineup.
Coach Tonya Cardoza said in the preseason that Temple is a small team, but against the Hornets, that wasn’t an issue at all.
“They were outmatched inside as you can obviously see when you have Mia and Tanaya scoring over 40 points and getting 30 rebounds,” Cardoza said.
As a team Temple scored 44 points in the paint and grabbed 54 total rebounds.
Atkinson recorded the 15th double-double of her career with 23 points and 13 rebounds against the Hornets.
Davis also had a double-double, the first of her Temple career, by scoring 21 points and grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds.
“It feels very good to get the double-double since it’s my first college game,” Davis said.
The Owls finished shooting 45.9 percent from the floor and had 24 assists as a team. Despite the efficient offensive execution, Temple’s defense still wasn’t up to Cardoza’s expectations.
Cardoza didn’t expect Temple to score 96 points, but she said she didn’t expect them to give up 72 points, either.
The Hornets only shot 34.7 percent on field goals for the game, but they attempted 30 free throws as well. The Owls committed 24 total personal fouls, the same amount they committed in their exhibition against the University of Charleston on Nov. 4.
Cardoza said the biggest improvement that needs to happen on defense is communication, especially because the team is so young.
Five of the six freshmen on the roster played against Delaware State. Other than Perry and Davis who started, freshmen guards Desiree Oliver, Emani Mayo and Nicolette Mayo came off the bench for Temple.
As one of the few seniors on the team, Atkinson said she expects to be the leader on the court in terms of communicating defensively.
“It’s definitely a transition when you have Feyonda [Fitzgerald] and Ruth [Sherrill] who were here last year who were talking all the time,” Atkinson said. “They had my mental lapse, so I definitely have to step up to the plate. Even when I’m tired, I have to talk because the young guys don’t really know what to say. Once we get into the groove of things, I think we’ll be alright.”