Owls fall to Mustangs in second round of AAC tournament

Temple University women’s basketball lost to Southern Methodist University 63-55 in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.

Aniya Gourdine, a freshman guard, recorded six points and four rebounds in an Owls’ loss to Southern Methodist University on Mar. 8. | NOEL CHACKO / FILE

With about one minute left in the fourth quarter, Mustangs’ redshirt-senior forward Savannah Wilkinson converted a turnaround mid-range jump shot, giving the Mustangs a 60-51 lead and sealing the Owls’ fate.

Temple University women’s basketball (13-15, 8-8 The American Athletic Conference) lost to Southern Methodist University (14-13, 7-7 The American) 63-55 on Tuesday afternoon in the second round of The American Athletic Conference Tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.

After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Owls entered halftime down 33-26, due to six made free throws by the Mustangs in the final two minutes of the half. 

The Owls were without graduate student forward Mia Davis and freshman guard Aniya Gourdine, two of the team’s best offensive players, for a large part of the second quarter, due to early foul trouble.

“This season when Mia isn’t on the floor, we’ve struggled,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza. “Tonight she didn’t have the most efficient game offensively because of foul trouble and also just because of how they were defending her.”

The Owls cut the deficit to just two midway through the third quarter. However, they quickly found themselves on the wrong side of a 6-0 run, which Mustangs’ senior guard Jasmine Smith capped off with a mid-range jump shot, giving the Mustangs a 46-38 lead heading into the final quarter.

After falling behind by a game-high 13 points with just more than four minutes remaining, freshman forward Caranda Perea and graduate student guard Emani Mayo drilled back-to-back 3-point jump shots, which cut the Mustangs’ lead to just seven.

A pair of late free throws by Mustangs’ graduate student Keyanna Warthen put the game out of reach for the Owls.

The Owls only attempted 12 free throws in the contest, while the Mustangs had 26 attempts at the line.

“When you put them on the line 26 times, it’s going to be hard to win,” Cardoza said. “When they can get to the free throw line at will like that down the stretch and we’re not, getting back into the game just isn’t going to happen.”

Davis led the way on offense for the Owls, finishing with 12 points and nine rebounds while shooting four for 14 from the field.

Despite key players like Davis and Mayo graduating from the program, the Owls believe their younger players will continue to grow as time goes on, Cardoza said.

“You look at our starting lineup, and we have three freshmen getting a lot of game experience,” Cardoza said. “We are hoping that this season will make them realize that they don’t want to be in this position again and that they really devote their time to getting better.”

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