Temple University women’s basketball (11-10, 6-4 The American Athletic Conference) fell 49-40 against the University of South Florida (17-6, 7-2 The American) on Wednesday evening.
“I thought our guys really came out here and fought today,” said head coach Tonya Cardoza. “We fought really hard, just unfortunate.”
The Owls started slow in the first quarter and allowed the Bulls to take a six-point lead in the first nine minutes.
Owls’ freshman guard Aniya Gourdine looked for Davis and freshman forward Kyra Wood down low in hopes of finding an open shot, as well as on the perimeter for open passes or an open lane to drive with the ball and get her own shots. The Bulls led 18-13 heading into the second quarter.
The Bulls’ defense only allowed the Owls to score a total of four points in the second quarter, forcing them to head into the half trailing 28-17.
Coming out of the half, Temple took advantage of a loose ball by the Bulls when graduate student guard Emani Mayo made a basket down low, cutting the deficit to 30-26 with six minutes and 58 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Owls found their groove and started closing gaps on defense later in the half, allowing them to hold the Bulls’ offense at bay. Gourdine made a big 3-point shot with five minutes and 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter, which left Temple trailing 32-31.
Gourdine made another 3-pointer that cut the Bulls’ lead to 36-34 at the end of the quarter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Bulls as the Owls’ frustration boiled over, and they started to commit fouls.
After a foul was called against Owls’ freshman guard Makayla Waleed, the Bulls regained momentum and made key shots down the stretch of the third quarter to take a 41-36 lead.
“We worked our tails off to get back into the game,” Cardoza said. “Now we’re being super aggressive looking to attack, and, I mean even with rebounds, I just felt like we got the short end of the stick.”
The Bulls led for the entire fourth quarter despite the Owls’ defense holding them on a scoring drought for the first four minutes of the quarter, even after graduate student forward Mia Davis fouled out.
The Owls had some missed opportunities, only scoring a total of four points in the final quarter, which led to the Bulls’ victory.
Temple struggled to take care of the ball as they committed 17 turnovers, leading to 13 points for the Bulls. The Owls only scored four points off of 13 Bulls’ turnovers.
Bulls’ redshirt-senior forward Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeua dominated under the basket, finishing with 11 points.
“It was a physical game,” Cardoza said. “We didn’t get the physical calls for us, and they were just as physical as we were. That’s the style of play that we like to play.”
Davis led Temple with 14 points, seven rebounds and went 2-3 on free throws. Following closely behind was Gourdine, who compiled eight points, four rebounds and went 2-6 on 3-pointers.
Next, the Owls will head on the road to compete against the University of Tulsa (14-5, 4-4 The American) on Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.