CARDOZA TESTS LINEUPS IN EXHIBITION
Five of Temple’s six freshmen saw their first college action on Saturday against a Division II school.
BY AUSTIN AMPELOQUIO
After Breanna Perry picked up her third foul early in the third quarter, coach Tonya Cardoza showed trust in the freshman guard.
“Be smart Bre,” Cardoza yelled from the sideline.
With 18 minutes, 38 seconds left in Saturday’s scrimmage against the University of Charleston, Perry was two fouls away from fouling out for the day. Cardoza decided not to signal to the bench for a substitution.
Perry, freshman guard Desiree Oliver and freshman forward Mia Davis each had two steals in Temple’s 92-44 win against the Division II school at McGonigle Hall.
Perry, Davis and freshman guard Emani Mayo started on Saturday alongside senior guards Tanaya Atkinson and Khadijah Berger. The Owls are looking for a starting group for their season opener on Friday against Delaware State University with senior guard Alliya Butts out due to a torn ACL she sustained in October.
The Owls’ six freshmen will have to contribute immediately, much like when Butts, Berger and Atkinson did when they joined the team for the 2013-14 season, Cardoza said.
“It’s going to be a learning curve for them because it’s something completely different just having them adjust in general,” Cardoza said. “I think the fact that they’re going to get a lot of minutes, they’re just going to continue to grow and get better.”
Davis logged the most minutes on either team Saturday with 29. She scored 14 points and shot 54.5 percent from the field. Davis scored 10 first-half points in the paint and showed an ability to stretch the floor.
She made her only 3-point attempt against the Golden Eagles. Davis also contributed six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“Being versatile, I grew into it,” Davis said. “I can dribble and shoot sometimes now, but throughout my life I had to play post because usually in high school I was bigger than everybody. That’s where I gained my inside game from.”
Atkinson is the only player who will definitely start, Cardoza said. She scored a game-high 25 points and shot 9-for-15 from the field. Atkinson also grabbed nine rebounds and a steal.
Temple scored 29 points off turnovers and recorded 16 fast-break points. The Owls’ average scoring possession took 14 seconds. The fast-paced tempo was a result of Temple’s aggressiveness, Cardoza said.
Perry and four other players ended with three or more fouls, and the Owls committed 24 personal fouls against the Golden Eagles. The fouls reflect the Owls’ inexperience and defensive mentality, Cardoza said.
“[Perry] definitely stands out because she’s long, she’s athletic and is able to get in the passing lane,” Cardoza said. “We’re just trying to harp on more ball pressure, getting in the passing lanes and making things difficult.”
Temple came away with 11 steals and forced 22 Charleston turnovers. Temple started off in man-to-man defense against the Golden Eagles before it switched to several defenses throughout the contest.
The Owls tested a 3-2 zone, full-court press and full-court trap against Charleston and will utilize different defensive strategies during games throughout the season because their size is a disadvantage to them, Cardoza said.
The 6-foot-1-inch Perry is one of four players on the roster taller than 6 feet. Junior forward Lena Niang, who is eligible to play after sitting out last year following leaving North Carolina State University, is 6 feet 2 inches tall. Niang had 12 points and nine rebounds against Charleston. The tallest player is 6-foot-4-inch sophomore center Shannen Atkinson.
Perry, who had two steals against Charleston, said playing uptempo fits Temple’s style. Getting steals to generate transition opportunities would help the Owls succeed without last year’s core. Six of the top-10 teams in steals last season made the NCAA tournament.
“We’re definitely a hard-working team trying to fill in pieces of the puzzle that we’re missing at this point,” Tanaya Atkinson said. “We lost four starters and have a lot of new kids so we’re definitely trying to get our feet wet with different positions and opportunities. We’re just ready for whatever is in store for us this year.”