Temple Women’s Basketball (10-16, 5-8 American Athletic Conference) lost to the University of Central Florida (12-13, 3-10 American Athletic Conference) 57-53 Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida. While Temple recovered from an underwhelming effort in the first quarter, foul trouble and an injury to forward Caranda Perea led to issues holding onto early their lead in the late stages of the fourth quarter.
The Owls, who have been plagued by slow starts all season, once again came out of the gate cold on offense. Temple struggled to create open shots against UCF’s defense in the opening quarter, shooting 1-of-16 from the field.
Perea also left in the early stages of the game after taking a shot to the head and unable to get cleared to return to the game. She is being treated for a potential broken jaw, said head coach Diane Richardson.
“We lost her in the first quarter so we got really down,” Richardson said. “Second quarter it was just determination.”
Temple began the second quarter shooting the ball much more efficiently and regained momentum. Despite the improved offensive play, the Owls struggled on the defensive end, as UCF found ways to penetrate the low post and draw fouls with Temple’s limited forward substitutions.
Temple had no answers for UCF forwards Anzhané Hutton and Destiny Thomas, who dominated on the boards. Hutton finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Thomas finished with six points and eight rebounds.
The Owls fought back in the third quarter when forward Tiarra East drove straight down the court, drawing contact and finishing on a tough bucket to put the Owls ahead 40-38, their first lead of the game.
Just when Temple seemed to be trending in the right direction, they encountered more issues that stretched their already-limited lineup. Forward Brittany Garner attempted to check in the game when Richardson subbed her in, but Garner was disqualified from the game after the officials believed she had stepped on the court to engage in a minor scuffle that had broken out.
“That was terrible,” Richardson said. “I sent her in to sub and the referee said that she was disqualified as she ran out there to fight or something. I thought that was not a good call and I voiced my displeasure. Twenty years I’ve been doing this and I’ve never had a confrontation with a referee, but today I just couldn’t hold back.”
Temple’s rotation took yet another hit when forward Ines Piper fouled out, leaving Temple with only five players available for the final six minutes of the game.
Because they were short handed, the Owls struggled to create scoring chances for the remainder of the game. UCF went on to seal the victory by getting to the free-throw line at the end of the game.
“Obviously we got a short roster and then with a disqualification and whatever, it was hard and I’m proud of them for fighting,” Richardson said. “We finished the game with five players and I’m proud of them for not backing down and not succumbing to the pressure.”
The Owls will look to break their losing streak when they travel to Wichita, Kansas, to battle Wichita State (15-11, 5-8 American Athletic Conference) on Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.