For a little more than 23 minutes, the Owls had No. 14/14 Dayton under control.
For the other 16-plus minutes it was a completely different story.
In their last Atlantic 10 Conference meeting the Flyers (24-1, 12-0 in the A-10) easily disposed of Temple (12-15, 5-7 in the A-10), 67-47.
Dayton went on runs of 13-0, 12-0 and 13-0 for a total of 16 minutes, 33 seconds to keep the Owls out of reach.
“They have a lot of guys that can score, a very high-powered offense,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I thought that we were right there with them, just hanging in there. I felt like they just had too much. We made too many mistakes and they capitalized on those mistakes.”
Temple shot 41.3 percent from the floor, including 5-of-11 from beyond the arc, but it wasn’t enough. Five Flyers scored in double digits, including four starters.
“It’s hard,” Cardoza said. “They way that they set up, every single guy on the court can shoot the three.”
“They’re a great passing team,” she added. “We’re doing the right thing where we’re trying to help out our teammates, but we couldn’t recover all the way out to the three-point line.”
Sophomore guard Tyonna Williams shot 50 percent and made three treys for a team high 13 points while dishing out four assists. Redshirt-junior forward Natasha Thames grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds to add to her six points. No other player was within 11 rebounds.
Senior center Victoria Macaulay struggled all game to make an impacted, fouling out with eight points and seven boards.
“Having our big, [Macaulay], out in foul trouble, that definitely hurt us,” Williams said.
The Owls jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the opening two minutes but Dayton’s first 13-0 run made it a 15-6 ballgame. Temple climbed back on the road to get within 20-18 with six minutes left in the half but the home team responded once again with a 12-0 run before heading into the locker rooms with the score 34-22.
Temple came out strong in the second half, chipping away at the Flyers’ lead. The Owls got to within 44-39 but couldn’t keep up the momentum. Dayton, with the score 54-45, went on their final 13-0 to ice the game.
“In the beginning of the game, in the beginning of the second half, when they went on those runs we countered them and we created some runs of our own,” Williams said. “We just didn’t put the dagger in them.”
The loss ensures the Owls finish with a losing record in the regular season for the first time since the 2002-03 season. That year they finished 14-15 (9-7 in the A-10) under then third-year coach Dawn Staley. It was the last time the Owls didn’t make the NCAA Tournament or Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
The only positive out of the loss is that their magic number to make the A-10 Tournament is down to one, after Virginia Commonwealth University lost Saturday to Xavier, 65-54.
Dayton extended its winning streak in the A-10 to 19, stretching back to Feb. 15, 2012 and includes their tournament run in which they defeated the Owls in the semifinals before downing St. Bonaventure for the conference title.
The Owls’ next game is at Butler (16-11, 7-5) on Wednesday. The game could have major implications on how the middle of the conference will shape up.