PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Temple University women’s basketball team battles Notre Dame tonight in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.

With a win, the Owls would advance to the “Sweet 16” for the first time in program history (see related story).

The Owls beat Arizona State in the first round on Saturday, 63-45, out in Salt Lake City, in a game they led virtually throughout.

Owls head coach Tonya Cardoza called in to KYW Newsradio on Monday and said they played very well against the Sun Devils, especially defensively.

“I think we just did a really good job of containing them and not giving them any easy buckets, trying to take them out of their offense,” she told KYW’s Matt Leon.  “We’ve known all year that if we play really good defense that we could beat just about anybody.”

Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with Tonya Cardoza in this CBS Philly SportsPod…

The Owls are 24-8, while Notre Dame, out of the Big East, is 27-7.  Cardoza says Notre Dame is an impressive team.

“They are so big and physical. And they can score at every position. There’s not one person on the  team that you can take a night off and not guard them.  Every single one of those guys is capable of putting up points.  So we are going to have to do a really good job of keeping them out of the pain — they like to score inside the paint and get to the free throw line a lot,” she said.

Usually when teams face top seeds like this in the early rounds of the tournament, it’s on the high seed’s home floor or in a “virtual” home game.  However, the Owls get a break in that this contest will be on a truly neutral floor, in Salt Lake City.

Cardoza says they hope to use that to their advantage.

“We’re hoping that the Utah fans come out and support the underdog. They were great (for Utah’s first round game against Notre Dame).  So we’re hoping that they get behind us and cheer for us and root for us.  That’s definitely an advantage, not playing them at Notre Dame and getting them on a neutral court,” Cardoza says.

Notre Dame beat Utah in that tournament opener, 67-54.   Last season, Temple advanced to the second round before losing to eventual champ UConn.

Temple and Notre Dame are meeting for the first time since 2002, when the Irish captured  an 84-61 decision.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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