Late-game collapse ends season

The Owls’ postseason run ended Wednesday after a 66-58 overtime defeat to host West Virginia in a Women’s National Invitation Tournament semifinal.

As the seconds counted down, there was nothing Tyonna Williams could do.

Temple’s lone senior was forced watch as West Virginia ran down the clock in overtime with the score well in hand Wednesday, and eventually ended the visiting Owls’ season with a 66-58 defeat of Temple in the National Women’s Invitational Tournament.

With 25 seconds remaining and a 53-51 lead, freshman Alliya Butts turned the ball over trying to break the Mountaineers’ press and subsequently fouled junior Bria Holes – giving the Mountaineers a chance.

Holmes knocked down both free throws, tying the game with 12 seconds left.

On the Owls’ final possession of regulation, three shot attempts, including a blocked jump shot by junior Erica Covile at the buzzer, were unsuccessful, and the game was then sent to overtime.

As a team, the Owls (20-17) missed seven of their last nine shots in regulation.

“We did some things to give them life,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I felt like, under one minute [left in the game], we had the game won and we didn’t do the little things to finish it off.”

In overtime, the Owls could not recover in an overtime period in which they shot 1 for 6 from the field.

“I felt like we were rushing, trying to hurry up and win the basketball game,” Cardoza said. “Not so much nervousness because of West Virginia. It was more what was at stake.”

But it wasn’t just the final-second turnover that hurt the Owls.

The Owls shot 7 for 18 from the free-throw line, the team’s lowest percentage of the season. In the second half and overtime period, the Owls shot 4 for 12 from the line.

Coming into the game, the Owls were shooting 73 percent from the charity stripe.

“We have shot free throws well all season and in the game we needed them the most, we came up short,” Cardoza said.

For a team with six underclassmen and only one player with postseason experience, Cardoza said the pressure of the moment got to the Owls, who shot 29 percent from the floor and had seven second-chance points on 21 offensive rebounds.

Defensively, the Owls had no answer for Holmes or senior Averee Fields, who scored 42 of the Mountaineers’ 66 points. Entering the contest, the two averaged 18 and 13 points per game, respectively.

Four of the five West Virginia starters are listed at six feet or taller, compared to the Owls, who only have two players that eclipse the six-foot mark in Taylor Robinson and Safiya Martin.

“[The Mountaineers] are long and blocking shots and switching everything,” Cardoza said. “It’s hard for us to get the shots we want.”

Michael Guise can be reached at or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.

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