It was a tale of inconstancy for both teams Saturday afternoon at the Liacouras Center, but the women’s basketball team ultimately came up just short, falling to visiting Cincinnati 55-53.
Both teams struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the first half, with Cincinnati shooting 19.2 percent from the field and 0-8 from three. Temple shot 23.3 percent from the field and 0-9 from beyond the arc.
“I felt like the way the game started we were just going through the motions, “ coach Tonya Cardoza said.
Temple entered the second half leading the Bearcats 17-11 but Cincinnati came out hot, hitting its first seven field goal attempts to start the half.
“The way the second half started I really think they fed off of that and carried it through the rest of the game,” Cardoza said. “They’re knocking down shots and it got to a point where every single person that put up a shot was just feeling it.”
Temple trailed by as many as seven points with 11:46 remaining but battled back to tie the game at 53-53 with 49 seconds left. Cincinnati converted two free throw attempts down the stretch and the Owls were unable to respond in their final three possessions, turning the ball over once and missing two field goal attempts.
Temple’s leading scorer, freshman guard Feyonda Fitzgerald was averaging 12.5 points per game entering Saturday’s matchup. However, she was held scoreless by the Bearcats.
“I think they just did a good job defending her and as a freshman they got into her head and felt like she was forcing it,” Cardoza said. “I think she took herself out of the game,” Carodza.
Junior guard Rateska Brown, whose leads the team in three-point percentage, was held to 1-8 from beyond the arc. Still, Brown was Temple’s leading scorer with 13 points.
“Personally I just feel like I didn’t hit any shots, the stats say I was one for eight and I had a lot of wide open looks just didn’t hit it,” Brown said. “My shot just wasn’t on.”
Temple previously beat Cincinnati on the road in January, 58-47, but also struggled shooting in the first half of that contest, shooting a season low 17 percent from the field.
“It’s something [Cincinnati] really wanted and they were hungry and they kicked our butts,” Cardoza said. “They came in here and felt like they could beat us because of the way that we played last game down at their place and they stuck it to us.”
Temple donned pink uniforms and shoes Saturday to support Play4Kay Day, which is held in remembrance of former N.C. State coach Kay Yow who passed away in 2009 from breast cancer. Temple’s players voluntarily raised money that will be donated to The Kay Yow Caner fund.
Temple (12-13, 6-8) will take on South Florida (13-10, 8-4) at the Liacouras Center next on Feb. 22.
Andrew Thayer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @FreshHobbes.