Owls drop first conference game

Southern Methodist defeated Temple 69-67 Tuesday at Moody Coliseum in Dallas to hand the Owls their first American Athletic Conference loss.

As Temple led Southern Methodist by 16 points with seven minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the first half, Mustangs’ leading scorer McKenzie Adams drove the ball down the court and converted a jump shot.

On the next play, Owls’ sophomore guard Donnaizha Fountain turned the ball over, and  Southern Methodist senior guard Gabrielle Wilkins drove to the basket for a lay-up, sparking a 14-0 run to cut Temple’s lead to one at halftime.

After six lead changes in the second half, the Mustangs defeated Temple (8-5, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) 69-67, ending the Owls’ five-game winning streak.

“I just felt like we allowed them to get easy shots, whether it was an open lay-up or transition buckets, and we were stagnant and not looking to be as aggressive,” coach Tonya Cardoza said. “They went on that run, and we never really answered it, even when we did things well, we did not capitalize it on the defensive side.”

With 18 seconds remaining in the game, sophomore guard Alliya Butts tied the game at 67 with a layup after Southern Methodist junior guard Morgan Bolton turned the ball over.

On the Mustangs’ next possession, Butts fouled Wilkins—sending the guard to the free throw line for two shots. Wilkins converted both attempts, giving Southern Methodist a 69-67 lead with five seconds remaining.

With two seconds left in Tuesday’s game, the ball found Fountain, whose attempt missed—sending the Owls back to Philadelphia with their first conference loss.

In the first five minutes of the game, Temple forced three Southern Methodist turnovers. The Owls jumped to a 14-6 lead halfway through the first quarter with Fountain and Butts each knocking down a 3-pointer.

The Mustangs trailed Temple 27-15 after the first quarter as they turned the ball over seven times.  Junior guard Feyonda Fitzgerald and Butts led the Owls with six points each.

“When we start like that, it is usually because of our defense,” Cardoza said. “Our defense gets our offense going. But they are a tough team to play because they play three players who are [6-foot-3 inches] or taller.”

After shooting 34 percent in the first half, Temple scored eight points in the second half on 27 percent shooting.

In the opening minute of the second half, senior guard Erica Covile landed a jumper to end the Mustangs’  run. Three possessions later, Covile fouled Wilkins, who converted her free throws to give the Mustangs a 38-37 lead, their first lead since a bucket 17 seconds into the game.

The third quarter consisted of four lead changes, but the Mustangs and the Owls headed into the fourth quarter tied at 51.

“We just needed to defend and get the stops,” Cardoza said. “We needed not to give up second chance opportunities. We had 18 steals, but did not capitalize off them.”

Like the third quarter, Southern Methodist and Temple stayed tight with two lead changes, but the Mustangs took the lead 58-56 on a 3-pointer from Adams.

Earning her 11th career double-double, Covile finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Butts led the Owls in scoring with 22 points.

“With being down in the second half, we just had to do what we could to get the win for our team,” Covile said. “We thought we could get some passes and some steals, but that didn’t happen for us.”

Temple is shooting 72 percent on free throws this season, but the team missed 15-of-27 attempts from the line Tuesday.

“We missed a lot of free throws, and I know the players are upset with themselves because they know they are better free throw shooters than that,” Cardoza said. “We can’t get back mistakes. We just can learn from them.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at connor.northrup@temple.edu

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