Temple University women’s basketball (9-9, 9-6 The American Athletic Conference) lost a close game against No. 13 South Florida (14-1, 11-0 The American) 56-47 on Wednesday afternoon.
The Owls held a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter but ran out of gas on offense in the final period, with the Bulls outscoring them 21-7.
“I just felt like we got exhausted in the fourth quarter and we just couldn’t score,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza. “They turned up their defense in the fourth quarter and made it difficult for us.”
Temple only had three players score in the game: junior forward Alexa Williamson, senior forward Mia Davis and freshman guard Jasha Clinton. Davis scored a game-high 23 points, shooting 8-for-21 from the field. Clinton had 20 points, including four of the Temple’s six total 3-point shots.
The Owls struggled in the second half, mostly because sophomore guard Asonah Alexander and Williamson were in and out of the game with foul trouble.
“I just thought we committed some silly fouls that put them on the free throw line and put key players on the bench,” Cardoza said. “I definitely feel like we’ve made strides defensively, our last couple efforts. I definitely feel like we’re working a bit harder, but our biggest issue is committing fouls.”
USF attempted 23 free throws, compared to just 12 for Temple.
The Owls’ defensive focus was switching assignments to keep up with USF’s high-volume perimeter offense.
“Our defensive effort was way better than other games,” Davis said. “The intensity was there, and we were communicating.”
Temple held USF to just 22 points in the first half, and the Bulls only shot 28 percent from the field for the entire game.
Although the Owls held USF to a low shooting percentage, Temple struggled to finish off possessions defensively. They allowed USF to bring down 17 offensive rebounds while only grabbing nine of their own.
Once USF took the lead back in the fourth quarter, the Owls rushed themselves offensively. Temple shot just 21.4 percent from the field in the fourth quarter and was unable to close the gap the Bulls created.
“We just needed to be patient and finish shots at the rim,” Davis said. “Just taking our time and letting the offense come to us instead of rushing.”
The Owls have just two games remaining before The American Conference Tournament begins on March 8. They will take on Central Florida (12-2, 10-1 The American) on Feb. 27 at noon in Orlando, Florida.