Temple Women’s Basketball (7-10, 2-3 The American Athletic Conference) suffered their second consecutive home loss 69-57 against the University of Tulsa (15-3, 5-0 The American) Tuesday night at The Liacouras Center.
Tulsa, which ranks second in the conference in scoring, jumped out to an early lead and did not look back. The Golden Hurricane outplayed the Owls from the beginning, breaking down Temple’s defense and hitting their open shots.
Temple only scored four points in the first quarter. The Owls shot 2-20 from the field and 0-6 from three in the first period.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, I think we were 2-20 in the first quarter,” said head coach Diane Richardson. “We need to settle down to make more shots as they come along.”
The Owls were dominated by the Golden Hurricane’s fast-paced offense, which included players moving to open spots to facilitate good scoring opportunities. Tulsa finished the first quarter shooting 9-of-15 with senior guard Maya Mayberry scoring six points.
In the first quarter alone, the Golden Hurricane put up 24 points, a mark the Owls did not reach until the third quarter.
Senior guard Aleah Nelson, Temple’s leading scorer, struggled to score throughout the first half. She shot nine percent from the field and contributed only four points in 20 minutes.
Nelson’s lack of scoring early on set the tempo for the rest of the team during the period. She eventually turned around her slow performance to finish with 12 points, but the scoring came too late in the game to have a significant impact.
“That’s what I want them to do,” Richardson said. “I think Aleah kind of got down on herself in the game against ECU and didn’t take any more shots because she was missing. Tonight you say something different.”
Tulsa continued to control the tempo of the game and found scoring opportunities down low by utilizing screens. While the Owls generated more points in the second half, the deficit was too big to overcome.
The Owls’ rim protection was lackluster throughout the contest, finishing with one block to the Golden Hurricane’s six.
Tulsa senior guard Maddie Bittle finished the game with 13 points on 45 percent shooting, including two threes.
Temple sophomore guard Tiarra East and junior guard Tarriyonna Gary had solid performances, with East finishing with 12 points off the bench and Gary finishing with 19 points.
“We started out a little bit slow, shots weren’t falling”, Richardson said. “But what I’ve got to say is that I am really proud of the way this team stayed in the game and didn’t put their heads down and fought back.”
The Golden Hurricane also secured more rebounds, which has proven to be a consistent issue for Temple, who lost tonight’s rebounding battle 46 to 37. The rebounds eventually turned into plus-12 points in the paint for the Golden Hurricane.
However, Tulsa’s key threat to the Owls was their creative half court offense. The American’s best offense by field goal percentage seemed to have open looks from several soft spots on the floor, regardless of the possession, and their finishing was consistent throughout.
If the Owls wish to bounce back, they will need their key scorers to step up on offense and sink their open looks early and often.
Temple travels to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse to take on the University of Memphis (10-8, 2-3 The American Athletic Conference) at 3 p.m. on Jan. 21.