For a short amount of time on Sunday afternoon, there was a buzz streaming through the crowd at McGonigle Hall.
The 2,646 people in attendance for Temple’s American Athletic Conference matchup against the No. 2-ranked Connecticut Huskies sat on the edge of their seats as the Owls went blow-for-blow with UConn in the beginning of the first half.
But, the moment quickly slipped away. A UConn run around the eight-minute mark of the first half ended Temple’s moment of hope, and the Huskies inserted their will on the Owls for the rest of the contest, winning in an 83-49 result.
Senior guard Tyonna Williams said it was exciting to compete with a team of the Huskies’ caliber, even for a short amount of time.
“Obviously it feels good,” Williams said. “Your team is kind of on a high because you’re playing UConn. You have the lead against UConn. I felt like we competed very well against UConn.
“Especially in the first half … the first 10-15 minutes, we were right there,” Williams added. “But obviously they made some runs and we didn’t make ours.”
Despite a similar score to the Owls’ 92-58 loss on Jan. 14, Sunday’s game played out differently.
In the last contest between the two teams, the Huskies dominated the Owls inside, outscoring them 56-8 in the paint.
On Sunday, Coach Tonya Cardoza made some adjustments defensively to try to slow down the Huskies’ post players. She used a 2-3 zone more than usual, and it proved effective at points during the game as Temple won the battle down low, 28-22.
“They certainly know what we’re going to do,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “I would think that Tonya would be pretty good at knowing what we’re going to do and try to take some things that we like to do.”
Similarly to the loss a few weeks ago, the size and skill of the Huskies was too much for the Owls.
While Temple was successful in limiting the damage inside, UConn hit 10 of its 22 attempts from 3-point range.
The Huskies size on defense also hindered the Owls ability to get easy chances. UConn blocked 10 Temple shots and added 10 steals.
There were two scary moments in Sunday’s game for the Owls. The first came midway through the second half when freshman Khadijah Berger was fouled in the act of shooting and went down hard, clutching her head. She went back to the locker room and did not return. Cardoza did not have any additional information regarding the injury after the game. Later in the half, junior Erica Covile and Williams collided, sending both to the ground. Covile was able to stay in the game while Williams needed to have her shoulder examined. She said she was fine after the game.
The most exciting shot of the day was not even part of Sunday’s contest. Temple freshman Dan Ray hit a half-court shot and received a $10,000 prize as a result … Despite a 5-for-23 shooting performance, Covile notched her ninth double-double of the season … Five different UConn players reached double-digit scoring totals. … The win marked the 899th victory of Auriemma’s 29-year head-coaching career.
Owen McCue can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Owen_McCue.