Owls fall to Shockers in the first round of AAC Tournament

Temple Women’s Basketball’s season came to a close in a 71-61 loss against Wichita State University on Monday afternoon.

Temple guard Aleah Nelson capped off her season with a 22-point performance, but the Owls fell short to the Shockers in the AAC Tournament loss. NOEL CHACKO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple went into the fourth quarter on a strong scoring run after guard Tarriyonna Gary connected on a three-point opportunity as time expired at the end of the third quarter. Wichita State then responded with a scoring run of their own, maintaining their lead for the remainder of the game and ending Temple’s season.

Temple Women’s Basketball (11-18, 6-11 American Athletic Conference) was defeated by Wichita State (17-13, 7-10 American Athletic Conference) 71-61 on Monday afternoon at the American Athletic Conference tournament in Fort Worth, Texas. In the first round loss, the Owls shot 35 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 13 times. 

“It was a tough game,” said head coach Diane Richardson. “We got down early and fought back. Just didn’t come out with a win.”

Guard Aleah Nelson, who was named to second team All-Conference honors by the American, showed how she earned the spot, as she led her team with 22 points. Nelson shot 4-of-9 from beyond the arc and also dished out four assists, but her efforts were not enough for an Owls’ victory.  

“I was just telling my team, regardless of the score, just to keep playing hard,” Nelson said. “I told [Temple] no matter what to keep fighting.”

Immediately after tipoff, Temple struggled to get anything going offensively, forcing passes and taking bad shots, which resulted in the Owls going 3-of-11 from the floor and trailing 17-8 at the end of the first quarter. 

In hopes of sparking some offensive rhythm, Temple needed a stout defensive performance to negate opportunities at the basket from Wichita State. The Shockers’ offense was effective in having players cutting to the basket, and a smart shot selection helped them shoot 43 percent from the floor in the first half and gain a 32-25 lead against the Owls entering halftime.

Temple has struggled after halftime in most of their contests this season, and Monday was no different. The Shockers took advantage of the Owls’ miscues on offense, starting off the third quarter on an 8-0 scoring run and forcing a deficit early on in the second half that Temple struggled to bounce back from. Wichita State led 52-49 heading into the last quarter of play.

Temple entered the postseason shooting 74 percent from the free-throw line. The Owls were aggressive in driving to the basket and got many chances at the free throw line, but couldn’t convert most of their chances, going 7-of-13. A lack of paint presence hurt the Owls throughout the whole contest. The Shockers scored 36 points in the paint. 

The Shockers’ leading scorer was guard DJ McCarty, who led her team with 18 points, while forward Trajata Colbert added another 15 for Wichita State. The Shockers’ passing throughout the contest allowed for easy baskets down low and in transition.

“[Wichita State] kept pounding, kept pounding, and kept pounding,” Richardson said. “[Wichita State] went inside, had shooters on the outside and a tremendous shooting percentage.” 

Temple will enter the offseason in hopes of landing more recruits that can bolster their backcourt, while also acquiring players through the transfer portal. They’ll need to add to their roster that ended the season with only eight available players.

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