Late Temple surge falls short in loss to Northwestern

Temple Women’s Basketball struggled to shoot from the field and had its three-game winning streak snapped in its 72-68 loss to Northwestern on Thursday.

Temple guard Tiarra East scored a team-high 20 points in the Owls 72-68 loss to Northwestern. | OMARI COKER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Owls had a four-point lead coming out of the half and confidence that they could put the game out of reach. However, Temple needed work to come back after a third-quarter shooting 21 percent and allowing 23 points.

Although guard Aleah Nelson scored 11 points for Temple in the fourth quarter, the Owls could not overcome their deficit. 

Temple Women’s Basketball (6-6, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) fell to Northwestern (5-7, 0-1 Big Ten Conference) 72-68 Thursday afternoon in The Liacouras Center. The Owls struggled from the field after a promising start, shooting just 31 percent and snapping a three-game win streak.

“We saw [Northwestern] have a surge in the third quarter, and we couldn’t stop it,” said head coach Diane Richardson. 

Northwestern guard Melannie Daley dominated the Owls with 21 points on the day, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter to secure a Wildcat win.

The Owls have emphasized throwing the first punch to start games and coming out fast with energy. Temple followed this perfectly to start the game, as guard Tiarra East’s 10 points in the first quarter led to an early 13-5 run. 

Temple struggled to close out the first quarter. The Owls missed shots and allowed Wildcats forward Caileigh Walsh to score seven points and cut Temple’s lead to just three points to end the first.

Temple came out strong to start the second quarter but allowed a 9-2 run as Northwestern cut its deficit to just four at halftime. 

“We didn’t knock down shots,” Richardson said. “Sometimes, we get in a rut when we’re not making shots. [They] get their heads down, and we have to fix that because I have confidence in them and I want them to keep shooting the ball.”

Temple’s shooting struggles continued after halftime as they shot 32 percent in the second half and allowed Northwestern to shoot an efficient 64 percent from the field. The Owls outrebounded the Wildcats 27-6 on the offensive end, but they struggled to capitalize off their second-chance opportunities, making just 12 of their 27 layups. 

East and forward Rayne Tucker combined for 39 points, and Tucker earned her third double-double of the season and a career-high five assists.

“I personally have been a little down on myself because the past couple of games, I really haven’t been hitting shots,” Tucker said. “The coaches really instilled their confidence in me the whole week, [saying] ‘Your shots are going to fall, we just want you to keep shooting and attacking.’”

This game marks Temple’s final non-conference opponent of the season, as they face a slate of 18 AAC games starting on Dec. 30.

“That was the talk in the locker room, that our new season starts when we get back from break,” Richardson said. “Our goals are still the same, and we know that we gotta play tough, we gotta play hard and we gotta be consistent.”

The Owls will take a nine-day break before returning to The Liacouras Center to take on UTSA (6-5, 0-0 AAC) on Dec. 30 at 1 p.m.

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