With 42 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter during a highly contested game against Cincinnati, Temple University women’s basketball frantically set up a pressure defense while trailing 67-65.
Senior forward Mia Davis tipped the ball and chaos ensued. The ball ended up in the hands of Bearcats senior forward IImar’I Thomas, who fought through defensive traps and barreled her way to the basket where she missed a layup. Bearcats freshman guard Jillian Hayes took the offensive rebound and, before she could be fouled, netted a jumpshot to all but seal the victory for Cincinnati.
Temple (4-4, 4-1 The American Athletic Conference) lost their first game in conference play 71-65 to Cincinnati (3-7, 2-4 The American) on Wednesday night, snapping the team’s four-game winning streak.
The Owls allowed offensive rebounds and second-chance baskets from Cincinnati all game. The Bearcats converted 12 second-chance opportunities into 12 points. The Bearcats also turned 15 Owls’ turnovers into 15 points.
“I think it’s just being confident, securing the ball and going after it,” said Temple head coach Tonya Cardoza. “You know, and offensively they were hungry and wanted this and went after it. You’ve got to box out.”
Thomas scored a game-high 24 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and converted a three-point-play with 52 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to cap a nine-to-two scoring run, giving Cincinnati a 67-63 lead.
Temple was without junior forward Alexa Williamson, who injured her leg in Saturday’s win over Central Florida. Without Williamson, who averages 10.6 points per game, the offense struggled, staying at their season average of shooting 39 percent.
“Of course without [Williamson] it’s tough,” Davis said. “It makes it a little tougher for me.”
Freshman guard Jasha Clinton’s 23 points and Davis’ 20 accounted for more than half of Temple’s point production.
The Owls missed easy scoring opportunities and looked lost when forced to run their half court offense in the fourth quarter, which cost them in a close game that included 16 lead changes and five ties. Temple turned the ball over six times in the fourth quarter alone.
The Owls also struggled to defend against Hayes with so much attention on Thomas. Hayes finished the game with 20 points on 9-16 shooting, as she frequently found open spots in the Owls’ zone defense.
Temple only played seven players Wednesday. Clinton and Davis played the entire 40 minutes, while sophomore guards Asonah Alexander and Rayniah Walker had to play 33 and 32 minutes respectively.
Temple will travel to take on Houston (6-4, 3-3 The American) on Jan. 20 at 1 p.m.