By Matt Leon

By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Temple women’s basketball team is doing what all college basketball teams strive to do – play its best basketball in March.

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The Owls are 18-16 and they have won seven of their last nine games. That includes victories over Marist and Penn in the first two rounds of the WNIT and on Thursday night they will entertain North Carolina State at McGonigle Hall in the Sweet 16.

Temple is enjoying this postseason success despite having just one senior on the roster, a roster which features seven freshmen and sophomores.

“We’re fortunate to have been invited to the WNIT,” Temple head coach Tonya Cardoza tells KYW Newsradio. “Now that we’re here we’re just trying to continue to play and grow and get better. We have such a young team that any kind of post-season experience is great for us, whether it is practicing or playing.”

Listen to the entire interview with Temple’s Tonya Cardoza:

 

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Temple started the season 3-7 and Cardoza talks about where they have improved the most over the course of the campaign.

“Definitely on the defensive side,” Cardoza says. “The last few weeks I feel like we’ve been playing better defense. To start the season, I felt like that was part of our problem, just taking pride in not letting teams score. Granted, we’re not anywhere near where we can be, but I definitely see that there has been more of a focus on the defensive side and trying to limit the opponent’s best players and scoring.”

On offense, the Owls feature five players scoring in double figures. Freshman guard Alliya Butts leads the way at 12.4 ppg.

On Thursday night Temple will take on a North Carolina State team that is 18-14 this season. The Wolfpack defeated East Tennessee State and East Carolina in the WNIT’s first two rounds to get here.

“They have guys that can really knock down the three,” Cardoza says, “perimeter guys that can really score the basketball. So it’s going to be difficult for us to defend them. It’s going to take a team effort to slow them down.”

The winner of this game gets the winner of Middle Tennessee State and Ole Miss in the next round.

Temple and North Carolina State get underway at 7:00pm on Thursday night.

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You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.