Temple outscored Connecticut by six in the second half, but it was not enough to dig the Owls out of the 34-point deficit they faced after the first 20 minutes against the top team in Division I.
Connecticut beat Temple (16-5, 6-2 American Athletic Conference) 97-69 on Wednesday at the Liacouras Center to win its 96th consecutive game and break its own NCAA record by winning its 35th consecutive road game.
The Huskies shot 76.9 percent from the floor to score 52 points in the first half. Sophomore guard and forward Katie Lou Samuelson scored 16 of her 24 points in the first half.
“I couldn’t think of a single thing we did bad in the first half,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think this game and the game against South Florida were the two best first halves we’ve had this season.”
For as well as the game went for Connecticut in the first half, it went as poorly for the Owls. Temple shot just 19.4 percent and turned the ball over 13 times in the half.
Temple relied on its 3-point shooting to fight back in the second half. The Owls made eight threes in the final 20 minutes, four of which by junior guard Khadijah Berger.
“I think we just did what we really wanted to do the whole game in the second half,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “In the first half we were just playing into the hype of playing Connecticut.”
The one aspect of the game Temple dominated was the glass. Temple finished with 26 offensive rebounds, four fewer than Connecticut’s combined total of 30. Junior guard Tanaya Atkinson finished with nine offensive rebounds, one more than the entire Huskies’ roster.
“I think our athleticism and speed really helped us out,” Atkinson said. “We were about to cause problems on the glass with quickness.”
The 28 point margin of victory is Connecticut’s smallest during conference play. Temple’s 69 points are also the most the Huskies have given up in conference play, and the third most they’ve given up all season.
“Tonya has done a really good job [at Temple], where it is not always the easiest place to have a winning women’s basketball team,” Auriemma said. “It’s been done before, but it is definitely not easy.”
Temple has now lost two in a row for the first time this season. Temple’s next game is on Sunday in New Orleans against Tulane, which is a half-game behind the third-place Owls in The American.
Kevin Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @_kevinschaeffer. Follow The Temple News at @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.