Owls win close game to stay perfect in AAC play

Temple’s defense forced 23 turnovers and held the Knights to just 25 percent from 3-point range.

Senior forward Mia Davis shoots the ball during the Owls' game against the University of Central Florida at McGonigle Hall on Jan. 9. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University women’s basketball (4-3, 4-0, The American Athletic Conference) won a close game against Central Florida (5-2, 3-1, The American) on Saturday afternoon by a score of 61-58, in a game in which Temple’s defense forced 23 turnovers.

With the win, the Owls stayed undefeated in conference play and delivered Central Florida’s first conference loss of the season. Temple has now won four straight games to open up conference play after losing their first three games of the season. 

“It just feels really good to win a game like this,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza. 

Freshman guard Jasha Clinton gave the Owls a strong performance, scoring 17 points while shooting six-of-17 from the field. Clinton also made five 3-pointers on the day. 

With 15 seconds left in the game, Clinton came off her defensive assignment to make her only steal of the game, sealing the win for Temple.

“When I saw her attack, I just got the instinct to go help and get the ball,” Clinton said. 

The Owls got helpful contributions from both their freshman guards. Kash Ayuso scored seven points while shooting three-of-seven from the field in just 14 minutes off the bench. 

“Ayuso and Clinton, to be freshmen contributing the way they did, I thought was key,” Cardoza said. 

Another key to the Owls’ offense was winning the turnover battle, especially against a team that is aggressive defensively. The Knights turned the ball over 23 times, but Temple turned it over just 19 times. 

“They’re a well disciplined team, physical,” Cardoza said. “I just thought our guys handled themselves well.” 

Despite having a quieter day than normal, senior forward Mia Davis still led the Owls in scoring with 19 points and six rebounds. She shot five-of-11 from the field and nine-of-12 from the free throw line. 

The Knights played zone defense most of the game to hinder the Owls’ use of their post players and inside scoring. Temple only shot 34 percent from the field and 23 percent from 3-point range. 

Besides Clinton and Davis, no other Owls player scored more than 10 points. Senior guard Emani Mayo finished third on the team in scoring with nine points. 

The Owls’ ability to convert free throws allowed them to slow down the pace of the game while still scoring points. Temple shot 74 percent from the free throw line, whereas the Knights shot just 54 percent from the free throw line. 

The Owls will look to continue their winning streak when they take on Cincinnati (2-7, 1-4, The American) on Jan. 13 at McGonigle Hall.  

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