Notre Dame's NCAA women's tournament foe Temple packs perimeter punch
But delve a little deeper into the Owls' season and the red flags are there for the Fighting Irish as they prepare to take on Temple in the second-round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament.
Temple, a 10 seed, has played three top 15 teams tough, losing by 10 or fewer points to then No. 7 Ohio State (84-75), No. 13 UCLA (71-61) and No. 3 Duke (71-64).
No. 2 seed Notre Dame (27-7) and Temple (24-8) meet at 9:40 p.m. EDT at Utah's Huntsman Center. The winner advances to the Dayton Regional to play the Oklahoma-Miami (Fla.) winner on Saturday in NCAA Sweet Sixteen play.
Notre Dame advanced by knocking off host Utah, the No. 15 seed, 67-54, on Saturday. Temple walloped No. 7 seed Arizona State, 63-45.
"They're a dangerous team," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said of Temple. "They really are a good team. Their guards are just exceptional. They can get to the rim and they can shoot the 3, which is really tough for us to guard, as you saw against Utah.
"I think that we've really got our hands full on the perimeter. You can't play zone against a team that shoots the 3 as well as they do. We have to contain the ball. I thought their post play was really good against Arizona State. Just when you think you can concentrate on one thing, you see something else."
Temple averages 6.5 3-pointers a game. The Owls connected for 14 against Richmond, 12 against Ohio State, and 10 in five other games (including UCLA). The Owls hit 35 percent of their 3s. Notre Dame allows opponents to hit just 26 percent of their shots beyond the arc.
Coach Tonya Cardoza, a 14-season assistant coach at Connecticut and a part of four national titles under Huskies' coach Geno Auriemma, has three 1,000-point scorers -- Qwidia Wallace (1,181), Kristen McCarthy (1,188) and Shey Peddy (1,298). Wallace owns the Temple school record for career 3s with 161.
"We're going to have to really lock down on the perimeter," Notre Dame guard Brittany Mallory said of limiting the Owls' outside shooting. "Becca (Bruszewski), Dev (Peters) and Natalie (Achonwa) are going to be in the paint helping us if we get beat on the drive. It's really going to be a team effort. We just really have to get a hand up in the face."
Temple's big three are the Owls' top scorers this season. Peddy, a 5-foot-7 guard, averages 13.9 points a game. Wallace, a 5-9 guard, averages 13.6. McCarthy, a 6-0 forward, averages 13.1.
Guards Natalie Novosel (14.8 points a game) and Skylar Diggins (14.4 points a game) lead Notre Dame in scoring.
Cardoza doesn't want her guards to be the focus of Notre Dame's defense.
"We want to take the pressure off our guards," Cardoza said. "If our post players can score, if B.J. (Williams) can come off the bench and give us points, that just makes us tougher to defend. When we just solely rely on the big three, teams get to play a certain way. When we can get points from other guys, we're almost impossible to guard."
Staff writer Curt Rallo: