With a matchup against third-place Tulane, the fourth-place Owls had a chance to take over sole possession of third in the American Athletic Conference standings with a win Saturday.
But, the Owls were unable to advantage and fell to The Green Wave, 77-63.
“I felt like we didn’t step up to the challenge,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Tulane took it right to us and they saw that we weren’t confident.”
From the opening tip, Tulane stifled Temple (11-13, 7-4 The American) with its defense.
Tulane, which entered the game ranked 18th in Division I in points per game allowed, held the Owls to 22-of-60 shooting from the field.
“We couldn’t make shots,” Cardoza said. “We started feeling sorry for ourselves and had our heads down.”
Following a program-record 15 3-pointers in an 84-61 win against Memphis this past Wednesday, Temple was unable to continue its hot shooting from long range in the loss, shooting 3 for 24 from beyond the arc.
“It’s just not paying attention to what is working and what’s not,” Cardoza said. “We were erratic at times … I feel that because we were down, we were rushing and trying to hurry back instead of taking it one possession at a time.”
Offensively, shooting was not the lone problem for the Owls, as they turned the ball over 18 times, and had 15 turnovers in the first half.
Recently, Temple has taken care of the ball. During the last 12 games, the Owls have turned the ball over 15 or more times on three occasions. Saturday marked the team’s fifth game in which it turned the ball over 18 or more times.
“When you turn the basketball over and they go down and score layups after it, it’s not good for your team,” Cardoza said. “In the second half, we didn’t turn the ball over because we are paying attention a little more … it’s just a lack of focus; a lack of concentration.”
Defensively, Temple couldn’t get a stop.
Tulane came in shooting 42 percent from field, and shot nearly 50 percent from both the field and 3-point range Saturday. In the first half, Tulane shot 54 percent from the floor and scored 45 points.
“I felt that we lagged,” Cardoza said. “We weren’t focused and paying attention, and we were giving up easy buckets to them.”
Tulane had four scorers in double figures, including junior center Chinwe Duru, who scored 23 points and added nine rebounds.
“They had guys step up,” Cardoza said. “[Duru] stepped up and had a career day against us in the post, and they had so much confidence once they were scoring on us at will. They really fed off of that.”
Tulane jumped on Temple early after Owls kicked off the game with a 2-0 lead. The Green Wave took a 26-15 lead with seven minutes left in the first half, and finished the period on a 19-11 run.
In the second half, the Owls were unable to cut Tulane’s lead to single digits. Junior guard Erica Covile, who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds, scored 13 points in the second half. Freshman Alliya Butts finished with 19 points, 16 of which came in the second half.
Michael Guise can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.